Surprise! Rory McIlroy beats out Brooks Koepka for 2019 PGA Tour Player of the Year honors

September 11, 2019

In the latest edition of We Didn’t See That Coming, Rory McIlroy has been named the 2019 PGA Tour Player of the Year, as voted upon by his peers.

McIlroy won three events in 2019, notably the Players Championship, but also the Canadian Open and the year-end Tour Championship. He led the Tour in Strokes Gained: Total, a statistic often used to measure consistency over the course of a season. His 2.41 strokes-per-round total was his best total of his career. But the Northern Irishman failed to seriously contend in the majors, including a missed cut at the Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

McIlroy’s biggest competition for the award was Brooks Koepka, who also won three tournaments during the 2019 schedule. Koepka’s biggest win came at the PGA Championship in May, but was a sign of continued major dominance. Koepka finished in the top four in all four majors in 2019.

“I think players don’t just feel 4 weeks a year is important,” McIlroy said after the award was announced.

Koepka, who won the Player of the Year award last season, has enjoyed plenty of success with a proverbial chip on his shoulder. Being leapfrogged by McIlroy late in the season will no doubt motivate the world No. 1 even more.

This is the third time McIlroy has won the POY distinction, following 2012 and ’14.

The Player of the Year — aka the Jack Nicklaus Award — was not the only honor announced by the Tour Wednesday. Sungjae Im was named the Rookie of the Year, which is also decided by the players. Im was the only rookie to qualify for the Tour Championship, after playing in more events than any other player on Tour last season.