On the heels of a season in which he won two major championships and was a catalyst in Europe’s third straight Ryder Cup victory, Rory McIlroy was announced today as the PGA Tour’s 2013-14 player of the year.
In a vote of his peers, the 25-year-old Northern Irishman prevailed ahead of Billy Horschel, Martin Kaymer, Jimmy Walker and Bubba Watson. McIlroy receives the Jack Nicklaus Award as player of the year for the second time in three seasons.
While his fellow nominees all enjoyed banner campaigns, they paled in comparison to McIlroy’s monster year. In consecutive summer starts he won the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone and the PGA Championship at Valhalla. He added runner-up finishes at the Honda Classic and Tour Championship, tallying a Tour-best 12 top-10s while posting top-25s in each of his 17 starts. He led the Tour with nearly $8.3 million in earnings and also regained his No. 1 world ranking.
It was an impressive rebound from a lackluster 2013 in which off-course issues seemingly affected his performance.
McIlroy, who is entered in this week’s Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews, reflected on his season today in a teleconference.
“It was a solid start, quite a few top-10s without really getting the wins,” he said while standing on the 18th tee at the Old Course. “Honda was a big point for me, just to get myself in the mix again in a PGA Tour event and nearly pull off the win. I didn’t quite play well enough on Sunday, but that gave me a lot of belief going forward that I could play well this season.
“I think the catalyst for this year probably wasn’t even on the PGA Tour. It was probably back on the European Tour at Wentworth when I won (the BMW PGA Championship) there. To get that first win of the season is always important, and then to go on from there gave me the confidence going into the summer, and obviously I had a great stretch in the summer.
“It’s been an incredible run, and (I’m) just trying keep it going as long as I can.”
The Tour also announced Chesson Hadley as its 2013-14 rookie of the year. The 27-year-old North Carolina native won the Puerto Rico Open in March while posting three other top-10 finishes. Hadley was the only rookie to advance to the BMW Championship, the third of four FedEx Cup playoff events, and finished the season 58th on the money list with more than $1.7 million.
Hadley outpolled Victor Dubuisson and Brooks Koepka for the rookie honor.