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Chronicle: 3 great years of golf including 2 already forgotten

The PGA Tour’s social media army probably meant well.

The tweet he sent Monday night celebrated Rory McIlroy and Lydia Ko’s big years, and for good reason. Both delivered some of their best, most consistent golf. Both won the points race on their respective tours and the lowest average trophy. Money can be faked. Scores don’t lie.

They won the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour player of the year, the former a player vote, the latter based on points.

Golf royalty? Sure.

But for the PGA Tour to suggest they “ruled the world of golf in 22” is to dismiss Scottie Scheffler and ignore Cameron Smith.

He also forgets that neither McIlroy nor Ko have won a major championship. It’s not a prerequisite for a good year, but it does stand out – especially on the men’s side – when players who have won that much or more have a green jacket or burgundy pitcher to show it off.

Besides, the year is not over.

Smith accepted the keys to his hometown of Brisbane on Tuesday, where he plays for the Australian PGA Championship. He will be aiming for his fifth victory of the year, with the Australian Open still to come next week.

Scheffler ends his year in the Bahamas against a field of 20 players, all but four of the top 20 in the world. It remains to be seen whether he has a chance of regaining the No. 1 ranking he had for most of the year.

All three had great years.

McIlroy joined Henrik Stenson as the only players to win the points title on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour in the same season.

Stenson played in 10 regular European Tour events when he won in 2013. McIlroy played six times without winning, but it’s a testament to the consistently high standard he played all year. Only once has he finished worse than eighth – a tie for 12th to start the year in Abu Dhabi.

In the majors, McIlroy finally left Augusta National on a happy note by hitting a bunker shot for a 64 to tie for second (he was 10 behind Scheffler to start the final round). McIlroy had the 18-hole lead at the PGA Championship, was one stroke off the 36-hole lead at the US Open and led after 54 holes at the British Open.

Along with his wins – CJ Cup, Canadian Open, Tour Championship – McIlroy was even more impressive playing great golf and being such a strong voice for the PGA Tour in their fight against Saudi-funded LIV Golf.

Never mind that McIlroy seemed to extend an olive branch and then use it as a switch. He said the “us versus them” had gotten out of hand, then he said LIV leader Greg Norman had to leave because the talks could only take place “with an adult in the room.”

Even so, his role as the loudest voice for the PGA Tour was one he gladly accepted, and the tour needed it. And all the while, he was at his year-end best. In his last seven starts, McIlroy has averaged 67.5, has never finished worse than eighth, has two wins and two really big trophies.

Scheffler is forgotten because he was at his best at the start of the year.

In six starts, he beat four of the toughest fields and formats at Phoenix and Bay Hill, Match Play and the Masters. He was so dominant at Augusta National that he absentmindedly putt four the last hole and still won by three.

It was his last win of the year, still the biggest on the PGA Tour. The playoff loss to an unlikely putt at the Colonial is overlooked, with Scheffler one putt away from a playoff at the US Open and a swing away from a chance to win the FedEx Cup.

He set a record for PGA Tour earnings (which will no doubt be broken next year given the high $20 million events) and was No. 1 for 30 weeks, earning him the award. Mark McCormack.

Smith has already lost his parking spot and his TPC Sawgrass membership, at the cost of turning his back on the PGA Tour to join a new league that offers few guarantees outside of money. He gave up being world No. 1, as well as the recognition he deserves for the year he had.

On a Plantation course in Kapalua built for power, he beat the No. 1 player (Jon Rahm) and set a record at 34 under. He birdied 10 times in the final round at Sawgrass to win the Players Championship against the strongest field in golf. And at the house of golf, he had one of the greatest closing rounds in British Open history with a 64 to pass McIlroy and hold off Cameron Young.

Against the 48 players over 54 holes at LIV Golf, he missed a playoff by one shot on his debut and won the next round by three.

Scheffler and Smith aren’t considered ‘kings of golf’ as they only spent a year at the palace. McIlroy – along with Ko, who reached No. 1 at the age of 17 – have been around long enough for their big years to receive appropriate applause.

It just shouldn’t come at the expense of two others who were just as good.


AP Golf: and

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the trophy for his fourth win of the DP World Tour season after finishing fourth at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. (AP Photo /Martin Dokoupil)

Chronicle: 3 great years of golf including 2 already forgotten

Lydia Ko of New Zealand poses with the Rolex Player of the Year Trophy, left, the Vare Trophy, center, and the LPGA CME Group Tour Championship Trophy, right, after the final of the LPGA CME Group Golf Tournament Tour Championship, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022, at Tiburón Golf Club in Naples, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Chronicle: 3 great years of golf including 2 already forgotten

FILE – Scottie Scheffler celebrates after donning the green jacket after winning the 86th Masters Golf Tournament on Sunday, April 10, 2022, in Augusta, Ga. Scheffler’s four-win year is easy to ignore because his last win was in April . (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, file)


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