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Who Should be the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year?

While there are several legit candidates for PGA Tour Player of the Year honors, for Morning Read contributors John Hawkins and Mike Purkey there is only one clear-cut favorite — and they disagree on who that one is.
Hawk and Purk Podcast

Longtime golf journalists John Hawkins and Mike Purkey, who co-host the Hawk & Purk podcast, also discuss and debate the game’s hottest issues in this weekly commentary.

With two months remaining in the so-called "Super Season," who is your pick as PGA Tour Player of the Year right now?

Hawk’s Take: We’ve seen six different major champions since last August and just five repeat winners, although Jon Rahm, whose lone victory came at the U.S. Open, makes this decision a no-brainer. Rahm’s dazzling U.S. Open triumph obviously earned him a ton of style points, but his body of work in 2020-21 is superior to that of Bryson DeChambeau or Collin Morikawa, the only other legitimate candidates at this point.

The forfeited win at the Memorial aids Rahm’s POY cause considerably. His 11 top-10 finishes are three more than anyone else. Four of those have come at the majors, where his worst showing has been T-23. He sits atop the money list, leads the PGA Tour in scoring average and has missed just one cut in 18 starts. As a whole, Rahm’s year can’t compare to any of the dozen or so vintage seasons turned in by Tiger Woods, who only won this award 11 times, but it’s better than what any of his peers have accomplished.

That said, there are still five premium-field events left on the schedule — more than enough golf for someone to make a move. If DeChambeau or Morikawa were to win the British Open, they would leap over Rahm and immediately bring an end to the POY sweepstakes, but some jumps are a lot easier than others. Until further notice, the big Spaniard is the best player in the game. He’s on track to claim an award that would prove it.

Purk’s Take: Usually, the PGA Tour Player of the Year is the author of the best performance(s), and that being the case, if things were decided now, Phil Mickelson wins this horse race by a couple of lengths. No one can dispute that the 50-year-old Mickelson delivered the most compelling, entertaining, highest level golf of the year on one of the game’s four biggest stages by improbably winning the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course.

Even in failing to win the U.S. Open after turning 51, all eyes were remained fixed on Mickelson, even by people who don’t normally watch golf. It really wasn’t reasonable to think that after becoming the oldest player to win a major championship that he could do it again at Torrey Pines. It would have meant the completion of the career Grand Slam and an Open triumph after six heartbreaking runner-up finishes.

However, it was equally unreasonable that Mickelson could win the PGA Championship, paired with and staring down the likes of four-time major winner Brooks Koepka in the final round. Mickelson even bombed his tee shot at the par-5 16th past Koepka, one of the longest hitters in the game.

By winning at Kiawah, Mickelson made even the most cynical believe that all things were possible. No one else this year has done that. Nor are they likely to.