The PGA Tour doesn’t announce vote totals or percentages for the season awards decided by the players but it’s hard to imagine Justin Thomas and Xander Schauffele not getting close to 100 percent of the vote in their categories.
The Tour announced that Thomas, the FedEx Cup champion and winner of the PGA Championship, was voted player of the year in a vote of the Tour membership, while Schauffele was named rookie of the year.
Thomas won five titles this season, highlighted by the PGA at Quail Hollow in Charlotte and the Dell Technologies Championship, a FedEx Cup playoff event. He also became the youngest player in Tour history to shoot 59 in a tournament, sparking his victory in the Sony Open.
Thomas, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth are the only players to win five tournaments in one season, including a major, before the age of 25. Thomas tied Spieth with 12 top-10 finishes, earned more than $9.9 million and capped his season by going 3-1-1 in last week’s Presidents Cup.
Schauffele became the first rookie in Tour history to win the Tour Championship last month, under either format (top-30 in earnings or top-30 on FedEx Cup points since 2007). He defeated Thomas by one shot. A a 23-year old native of San Diego and 2016 Web.com Tour graduate, Schauffel also won the Greenbrier Classic and finished third on the FedEx Cup points list, the highest finish for a rookie in history.
Schauffele’s award added to the honors racked up by the “Class of 2011.” Players in that high school graduating class have now earned four of the last five rookie of the year awards, with Schauffele following Spieth, Daniel Berger and Emiliano Grillo. Thomas was another member of that class, joining Spieth in winning the FedEx Cup.
Long-time PGA Tour executive Charlie Zink retired following the Presidents Cup last week, after 31 years and serving under three of the four commissioners in the organization’s history.
Zink was the chairman of the Presidents Cup after serving as the Tour’s co-chief operating officer from 2002-2016. He began as the Tour’s chief financial officer, hired by former commissioner Deane Beman. Zink oversaw the Tour’s consolidated financial, executive board and administration; TPC and golf course properties operations; The First Tee and World Golf Hall of Fame development and operations; and Championship Management, including The Players Championship, the Presidents Cup and the Tour Championship.
“Charlie has played an integral role in the PGA Tour’s growth and success over the past three decades, providing invaluable knowledge and leadership across a broad spectrum of our business areas,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement.
Byrd takes a break
Only three of the 50 players who earned their PGA Tour cards last week at the Web.com Tour Championship are not playing in this week’s 2017-2018 season opener, the Safeway Classic, in Napa, Calif.
One of them was the winner at the Atlantic Beach Country Club, Jonathan Byrd of St. Simons Island, Ga. But he predicted as much after closing out his four-shot victory on Monday.
“I feel like I’ve kind of earned a little bit of a break,” Byrd said after his bogey-free 67 that gave him a tournament record score of 24-under 260. “I want to celebrate with my family. I think it’s always a team decision, a family decision. I’ve got plenty of time to get out there and get ready to compete.”
Byrd played eight weeks in a row, five Web.com Tour events and three on the PGA Tour.
Also not entered at Napa is Chad Collins, who needed a 65 in the final round to finish 23rd on the Web.com Finals money list; and Austin Cook, who was 15th on the Web.com regular-season money list. All 50 players who got their Tour cards were eligible for the Safeway Open.
2019 President Cup dates set
The next Presidents Cup will be closer to Christmas than Labor Day.
The PGA Tour announced that the 2019 Cup at Royal Melbourne in Australia will be Dec. 12-15, around the same time as when it went to Australia the last time in 1998. This year, the 10 automatic spots were determined on Sept. 4 after the second FedEx Cup playoff event — three weeks ahead of the matches. If the cutoff is the Tour Championship in 2019 — that presumably will be Labor Day — then the U.S. team would be set three months before the opening tee shot.
Michelle Wie has recovered from an appendectomy and will play the last six LPGA Tour events. Five are in Asia beginning in South Korea next week. … This week’s Safeway Open defending champion, Brendan Steele, was the only winner of the opening event of the season to fail to reach the Tour Championship since 2013.
THIS WEEK ON TOUR
Event: Safeway Open, Thursday-Sunday, Silverado Resort and Spa, Napa, Calif.
At stake: $6.2 million purse ($1,116,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points to winner)
Defending champion: Brendan Steele
TV: Golf Channel (Thursday-Sunday, 5:30-8:30 p.m.)
Area players entered: Jonas Blixt, Bud Cauley, Roberto Diaz, Harris English, Matt Every, Lanto Griffin, Zach Johnson, Rick Lamb, Sam Saunders, Steve Wheatcroft
Notable: Steele birdied his last three holes to beat Patton Kizzire by one shot. … Phil Mickelson and John Daly lead the field. … Also playing is Sang-moon Bae, who is making his first PGA Tour start since 2014 after fulfilling his mandatory military service in South Korea.