For the first time since 1991, the PGA Tour Player of the Year and the PGA of America Player of the Year is not the same person. The PGA Tour announced Wednesday Rory McIlroy had won the peer-voted PGA Tour Player of the Year award over world No. 1 Brooks Koepka.
The somewhat surprising result was the result of what's said to have been a close vote between the two players. However, the PGA Tour doesn't reveal the final vote tallies.
McIlroy winning the award seems an indication a majority of players figuring the Ulsterman's remarkable full-season performance was more important to being the PGA Tour Player of the Year over Koepka, whose historic season included a fourth-career major title and top-five finishes in all four majors (becoming the fourth player in modern history to accomplish the feat). McIlroy won The Players Championship, the FedEx Cup via the Tour Championship and the RBC Canadian Open, offering somewhat of a counter to Koepka's PGA win, as well trophies in the no-cut CJ Cup at Nine Bridges and the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.
Where McIlroy likely secured his edge over Koepka, though, was in his historic strokes gained numbers. McIlroy demolished the field average by an average of 2.551 strokes per round in his 19 PGA Tour starts this season. McIlroy also won the Bryon Nelson Award for adjusted scoring average. He was in the top 10 in 14 of his 19 starts. The consistency of McIlroy's season was more remarkable than Koepka's on the whole, and that's what got him the award despite missing the cut in a major and never truly being a factor in any of them this season.
Koepka had already won the PGA of America Player of the Year award, which is a points-based honor that heavily weighs performance in the four major championships. He was the 2018 PGA of America and PGA Tour Player of the Year recipient.
For McIlroy, this is his third Jack Nicklaus Award as PGA Tour Player of the Year.
"I couldn't be more proud of what I've achieved this year," McIlroy said. "I wanted to try and bring my best every single week that I played, and I feel like I did that to the best of my ability. I feel like the top 10s, the consistency, the work that I've put in -- I think that the greatest compliment you receive is that your peers feel like you've done something pretty special and for this award to be voted on by my fellow players, I'm very humbled and very honored."