Scotty Scheffler played 58 tournaments over two years between earning his PGA Tour card and his first win at the Phoenix Open. That turned out to be the best start to the year in golf.
A month later, Scheffler went number 1 in the world. Two weeks later, he won the Masters and became a major champion. And on Saturday, he capped off an impressive streak when he was named PGA Tour Player of the Year.
The only surprise was Scheffler’s. He received the Jack Nicklaus Award during an appearance on ESPN’s College Game Day in Austin, Texas. Scheffler graduated from the McCombs School of Business in Texas with a degree in finance in four years of summer school.
Longhorns coach John Fields was on stage with the Texas golf team that won this year’s NCAA title when he brought what was described as a special gift. It was a bronze trophy, and the fans started chanting his name.
“That’s great,” said Scheffler, choking up. “I don’t have much to say. I certainly didn’t expect that. But it means a lot to me.”
Scheffler can do a lot in a short time once he gets going.
Since the award’s inception in 1990, he became the first player to win the Corn Ferry Tour Player of the Year, the PGA Tour Player of the Year and the PGA Tour Player of the Year, all in four seasons.
The award is voted on by PGA Tour members who have played in at least 15 tournaments. Scheffler received 89% of the vote ahead of Open champion Cam Smith and FedEx Cup champion Rory McIlroy, both three-time world champions.
The Masters was Scheffler’s fourth win in six tournaments, and while he didn’t win the rest of the season, he wasn’t far off. His best friend, Sam Burns, beat him in a game at the Colony. He finished one shot behind Matt Fitzpatrick at the US Open.
And McIlroy almost ended his season at the FedEx Cup until he followed him in the final round of the Tour Championship. Scheffler had to settle for a second and a $5.75 million bonus. He won a $4 million bonus for leading the FedEx Cup in the regular season — he was No. 1 in Week 23 of the final season — and a $1 million bonus from the Aon Risk-Reward Challenge.
His regular season earnings were a record $14,046,910, leaving him $25 million short of his total.
“One of the greatest compliments a player can receive is the support of his peers, and Scotty’s dominant and consistent season speaks volumes for the membership,” Commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement.
Smith’s three wins came at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, The Players Championship and the St. Andrews Open, where he shot a final-round 30 on the back nine.
McIlroy won the CJ Cup in Las Vegas last fall, the RBC Canadian Open in June and the Tour Championship. He is the only player to finish in the top 10 in all four majors and captured the FedEx Cup for the third time.
Even then, McIlroy could appreciate the year Scheffler had.
“He probably deserves it more than I do. He’s played an incredible season,” McIlroy said. “Hell of a player, hell of a competitor. Even better man, love his family.”