McIlroy to play 2020 Irish Open if it's held in May

Ross Houston
September 13, 2019

Sungjae Im won the vote for Rookie of the Year and will receive the Arnold Palmer Award.

McIlroy, who won the award in 2012 and 2014, made 17 of 19 cuts while racking up three victories, including at the season-ending Tour Championship where he also claimed the FedExCup.

"Brooks has had an incredible year, an incredible three years, really", McIlroy said of the award. Koepka was runner-up at the Masters and the U.S. Open, and his lowest finish at any major came at the Open Championship where he tied for fourth.

This isn't exactly Antonio Brown setting himself on fire and running around in circles during opening week on the National Football League season, but the surprising result will no doubt be debated during this week's usually quiet season-opening Greenbrier Classic where World No. 10 Bryson Dechambeau is the highest ranked player in the field.

What you get will be the unfortunate response to what is otherwise a very minor controversy: Rory McIlroy was voted PGA Tour Player of the Year by his peers.

A victor in 2016, McIlroy became the second player to win multiple FedExCups, following Tiger Woods, and the first player to win it along with The Players Championship in the same season. McIlroy thought he would still have a chance if won the FedEx Cup, and then he posted four rounds in the 60s to win, beating Koepka in the final group at East Lake.

If I had a vote (don't worry, I never will) it would have been Koepka. Not for his major record alone, but for how it further highlights McIlroy's major miscues.

The one disappointment was his performance in the majors. Not knowing the vote total or even how many players opened the email from headquarters leads to inevitable and unfortunate questions. "I thought maybe Brooks winning the PGA Championship this year was going to be the difference-maker, but the other players thought differently".

I'm guessing eyes rolled when Monahan introduced McIlroy on the call by labeling those "landmark victories" in another example of the tour's desperation to elevate events needing no artificial elevating. In field strength, prize money, course difficulty, it certainly holds up.

"I wanted to try and bring my best every single week that I played and I feel like I did that to the best of my ability".

"I think that's a huge vote of confidence from the players that we play for more than maybe what the narrative suggests". Koepka finished with nine top-10s in 21 events and tells anyone he can that he barely cares about regular events. Players just don't feel only four weeks are important.

The Tour doesn't disclose the results of the votes, only the victor.

DeChambeau said he planned to play four tournaments before the Presidents Cup and will be hoping for the same kind of early-season success he had past year when he won his first tournament of the campaign at TPC Summerlin last November.

There's the KLM Open teeing off at The International in the capital of Holland on Thursday, and the Greenbrier Classic at White Sulphur Springs for the resumption of the PGA Tour. This one's a stretch. None of that should matter and almost every player I've spoken to is mightily impressed by Koepka and sees his mental fortitude as something to strive for.

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy reacts on the 10th green during the first round of the British Open golf Championships at Royal Portrush golf club in Northern Ireland on 18 July 2019.

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