Scottie Scheffler won the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year for the 2023 season, with plenty of justification. He posted the lowest scoring average on Tour — 68.63 strokes per round — and won both The Players Championship and the WM Phoenix Open. He didn’t miss a single cut, and he finished in the top 10 in 17 of his 23 events and in the top five in 13 of those.
That’s all incredibly impressive. But here’s another set of impressive stats: four wins and 10 top-10 finishes over 20 events, with a Masters green jacket as the crowning achievement. That’s the 2023 record of Jon Rahm, who added a dominant Ryder Cup victory as a flourish. Does that record match, or exceed, Scheffler’s?
It’s a tight and debatable question, but Rahm might have tipped the scales himself by jumping to LIV Golf. Consider: The Jack Nicklaus Award for Player of the Year award is determined by member vote, with players who competed in at least 15 of the Tour’s FedEx Cup events eligible to vote. Voting ran from Dec. 1 to Dec. 15; Rahm formally declared that he would be joining LIV on Dec. 8.
Scheffler, the 2022 winner as well, is the sixth player to win the award multiple times and the fourth player to repeat. He’s the first since Tiger Woods three-peated from 2005 to ’07 to capture the award in successive years, a testament to how widespread the talent now is in the game.
“Anything that you receive voted on by your peers is very special to me,” Scheffler said prior to the start of The Sentry in Hawaii. “I think the body of work I put in last year, with the consistency and finishing top most of the weeks that I played, I was very proud of that consistency.”
Scheffler completely sidestepped a question about comparing his year to Rahm’s, saying he doesn’t focus too much on “the past or the future.”
“I’m very proud of the body of work that I put in, the consistency that I put in last year I’m very proud of,” he added. “I’m proud of both of my wins — or, I guess, all three of them now, including the Hero [World Challenge, won after voting began]. Yeah, it was a really solid year, and I’m proud of how I played.”
The PGA Tour’s release announcing the award noted four other nominees — U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark, FedEx Cup champion Viktor Hovland, Rory McIlroy and Rahm — but didn’t release voting totals, other than to note that Scheffler received 38% of the vote.
The Tour has not historically released vote totals or the percentage of winning votes the leader captured. Without that information, it’s impossible to speculate whether Rahm’s defection spurred his fellow players’ decision to vote against him. But the timing of the vote against Rahm’s stout 2023 is notable, to say the least.
Remarkably, Rahm has not yet won the award, and it’s not the first time he has lost in a close race for Player of the Year. In 2021, Patrick Cantlay edged him in another tight wins-versus-stats battle. Rahm is in a self-imposed silence while awaiting the beginning of the 2024 LIV Golf season, slated to start in February at Mayakoba in Mexico.