McIlroy named USPGA Player of Year after stellar run

AFP, PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Florida

Thu, Dec 06, 2012 - Page 20

Rory McIlroy, whose four USPGA Tour victories this year included a Major title at the PGA Championship, was named the US tour’s Player of the Year on Tuesday.

US tour members vote on the award, which made the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland the youngest player to be named Player of the Year since then-21-year-old Tiger Woods in 1997.

McIlroy authored a strong finish to the season, including his eight-shot PGA Championship triumph at Kiawah Island.

He won the USPGA Tour money title, along with the European Tour’s money crown, and won the Vardon Trophy awarded by the PGA of America and the USPGA Tour-awarded Byron Nelson award — both for lowest adjusted scoring average.

“It’s always nice to get recognition from your peers, the guys that you’re trying to beat week in, week out,” McIlroy said. “It’s very rewarding and it’s just a great way to end what has been a great year, and my best season so far.”

McIlroy became the third European in five years to capture the award. Ireland’s Padraig Harrington won it in 2008 and England’s Luke Donald received it last year.

The tour does not announce the voting numbers for the award, but the ballot for Player of the Year also included Woods, who had three wins this season, Jason Dufner, Masters Champion Bubba Watson and Brandt Snedeker, who captured his second title of the season at the Tour Championship to claim the FedEx Cup playoff crown.

John Huh, the only rookie to make it to the Tour Championship, was named Rookie of the Year.

After his PGA Championship triumph, McIlroy went on to win the Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick.

McIlroy’s other victory was earlier in the season, when he held off Woods to win the Honda Classic and reach No. 1 in the world for the first time.

He surrendered and regained the top spot several times over the season until settling in at No. 1 with his strong late form.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said McIlroy’s professionalism was as striking as his game.