Scheffler wins player vote as PGA Tour player of the year over Rahm

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FILE - Scottie Scheffler, of the United States, watches his shot from the second tee during the final round of the Hero World Challenge PGA Tour at the Albany Golf Club, in New Providence, Bahamas, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023. Scheffler has been voted PGA Tour player of the year over Masters champion Jon Rahm, a player vote that raises questions of whether Rahm was penalized for defecting to LIV Golf. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano, File)

KAPALUA – Scottie Scheffler has been voted PGA Tour player of the year over Masters champion Jon Rahm, a player vote that raises questions of whether Rahm was penalized for defecting to LIV Golf.

Scheffler is the first back-to-back winner since Tiger Woods in 2006-07. The world's No. 1 player had the best statistical season since Woods by leading the tour in all the important categories from the tee to the green, along with scoring.

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He had the seventh-lowest adjust scoring average (68.63) in PGA Tour history — the top six belong to Woods — and finished out of the top 10 only six times in 23 tournaments from a season that began in September 2022. At one point, Scheffler went 18 consecutive starts where his worst finish was 12th.

“Anything that you receive voted on by your peers is very special to me and being able to go home with this trophy two years in a row now is very special,” Scheffler said. “I think the body of work I put in last year ... I was very proud of that consistency.”

What he lacked, compared with Rahm, was winning.

Scheffler won The Players Championship and the Phoenix Open. Rahm, however, won four times, including his second major when he captured the Masters.

The PGA Tour said voting took place from Dec. 1 through Dec. 15. Rahm, who for 18 months had been an ardent supporter of the tour, donned a LIV letterman's jacket and announced he was joining the Saudi-funded rival league on Dec. 7.

The tour said Scheffler received 38% of the vote in what was believed to be a tight race. It did not disclose the voting percentage received by Rahm, FedEx Cup champion Viktor Hovland, U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark or Rory McIlroy.

The tour previously did not release any vote totals for the award. Now it withholds what percentage of players voted.

In another close race, Eric Cole was voted rookie of the year over Ludvig Aberg of Sweden. The award comes 50 years after Cole's mother, Laura Baugh, was the LPGA rookie of the year. Cole was the only player to reach the second round of the FedEx Cup playoffs. A longtime player in golf's minor leagues, he made $5 million in his first year on tour.

Scheffler had hinted in the Bahamas last month that his vote might go toward Rahm because while consistency is key, “we play this game to win.”

Asked if he was surprised to win, Scheffler said it all depended on what mattered the most to players who voted.

“I guess this year they really kind of appreciated my consistency,” Scheffler said. “The way I played the entire year — I think I maybe only had one or two starts that I would categorize as not great, but other than that I had a lot of starts where I just played really solid golf. And to do that for an entire season out here I think is very difficult.”

Cole also was a steady hand, especially for someone who had played only two regular PGA Tour events before finally getting a card. At age 35, he is the oldest rookie of the year since Todd Hamilton in 2004.

Cole had two runner-up finishes and two third-place finishes, and he played well enough to move into the top 50 in the world ranking to earn a spot in the Masters.

Aberg didn't turn pro until June. He won the season-ending RSM Classic by tying the PGA Tour scoring record for 72 holes at 253. He previously won on the European tour and went from leaving Texas Tech in June to playing in the Ryder Cup for Europe in September.

Aberg played 11 times since turning pro. Cole likely was rewarded for the full body of his rookie year, having played 37 times in a 15-month season.


AP golf:

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