Patrick Cantlay was voted PGA Tour player of the year on the strength of his four victories, including a one-shot advantage at East Lake that made him the FedEx Cup champion.
Tuesday’s announcement was another big step for Cantlay, a 29-year-old Californian who went from being the No. 1 amateur in the world to being unable to play for some three years because of a career-threatening back injury.
Now he has the Jack Nicklaus Award after a big finish to his best season. Cantlay won four times this season, capped off by the FedEx Cup. No one else won more than twice.
The PGA Tour does not release vote totals or how many players even voted. It presumably was a tight race between Cantlay and Jon Rahm, the No. 1 player in the world.
Rahm finished one shot behind Cantlay at the Tour Championship, where the Spaniard started the tournament four shots behind. He picked up his first major this year at the U.S. Open with a birdie-birdie finish. Rahm also had a six-shot lead going into the final round of the Memorial until having to withdraw with a positive COVID-19 test.
Cantlay wound up winning the Memorial for his second win of the season, and then he set himself apart at the end. He won the BMW Championship at Caves Valley with as clutch a putting performance as there has been all year to beat Bryson DeChambeau in a playoff, and then he won the Tour Championship to collect the FedEx Cup and its $15 million prize.
Rahm, meanwhile, won the PGA of America award as player of the year. That’s based on points, with triple value for winning a major.