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Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Player of the Year Race

As you probably know by now, Keegan Bradley squeaked out a win at the PGA Grand Slam... not against Rory McIlroy but against Charl Schwartzel, who I think everybody had written off after Tuesday's round. (I know I had.) Charl went absolutely freaking nuts on the course, shooting -6 and pulling within a stroke of Keegan, who could only shoot even par. And Keegan shot a much better score Wednesday than the other two major champions.

But now I find myself wondering... in the minds of the other players on Tour, the ones that vote for Player of the Year, will this win carry any weight? I know it was only a 4-man event, but McIlroy is #3 in the world and Schwartzel #13. Keegan's only #26. (Darren's #33, in case you're wondering.) In addition, Keegan was playing them all head-to-head in the same grouping.

I know it will probably come down to Luke Donald or Webb Simpson, and that will depend on what happens this week at Disney. Both have a lot of Top10s (although I'd argue that Luke's are mostly Top5s), so that's pretty much a wash, and they're #1 and #2 in scoring average. If Luke wins, he has 2 PGA wins (plus 2 worldwide) and possibly wins the money list on both the PGA and European Tours, plus the "adjusted" scoring average -- probably a POY performance. If Webb wins, that's 2 PGA wins, the money list, and the "actual" scoring average -- and that probably cinches POY for him.

Keegan doesn't have all that. He's 31st in scoring average, nearly 1.5 strokes behind Donald. He's only got 4 Top 10s. And he's only #13 on the money list, about $2.5 million behind Simpson. But 2 PGA wins, with one being a major, just seems like it ought to count more than it apparently does. It wasn't even enough to get Keegan on the Presidents Cup team, despite having earned more points in less time than anyone else.

Now he's beat Rory and Charl head's-up, although that probably won't mean anything. He'll probably get Rookie of the Year, which ought to count for something all this. And we need to remember that, as a rookie, this was all new to him. He not only had to get used to the routines of life on Tour but he was new to every venue as well, which put him at a serious disadvantage in just about every tournament he played. 2011 was a virtuoso performance for Keegan.

It may seem strange that I'm not pushing for Keegan to be POY. The fact is, I think either Luke or Webb probably should be POY. Luke should get credit for 3 worldwide wins since he played a full PGA schedule plus a full ET schedule, which is certainly tougher than just playing a lot of PGA events. And I suspect Webb will win the money title and get POY, which I can't really argue with either, since he has 2 wins. After all, nobody scored more than 3 wins on any tour this year.

I just think Keegan Bradley hasn't gotten his due for his accomplishments this year. His win at the PGA Grand Slam is just one more indication of how good his year has been. It was certainly a POY performance for a rookie.

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