The PGA Tour ended its 2023 season Sunday with the RSM Classic, the last of the fall events that don’t count in the FedEx Cup race. The new season, no longer using a wraparound season, will begin in January in Hawaii, with The American Express in La Quinta as the third event of the new season and the second full-field event of the year.
Ballots for PGA Tour awards for the year won’t be mailed out to players until December, with honors like player of the year and rookie of the year to be decided. But why wait that long, when we can just conjecture who will win what award based on what we already know about the 2023 season?
So here’s a guess at who will walk away with the top awards, as well as a few other highlights from the year:
Player of the year
Jon Rahm: From the start of the 2023 calendar year through the Masters, no one in golf was hotter than Rahm. He won four PGA Tour events, including The American Express in La Quinta. He capped off the run with a win at the Masters for his second career major title. He was also second in the British Open, one of his 10 top-10 finishes for the year. The PGA Tour award doesn’t have anything to do with his Ryder Cup play, but that was pretty strong for Rahm for a winning European team, too. Scottie Scheffler has a great year with two wins and 17 top-10 finishes, but Rahm had the better year.
Rookie of the year
Eric Cole: If the chase includes the Fall Series tournaments, it might be Ludvig Aberg that wins going away, with 13 made cuts in 16 starts, a runner-up finish and an impressive win at the RSM Classic on Sunday. But for the entire year, Cole played outstanding golf for a guy who was just, well, a guy for many, many years. He didn’t win in his 37 starts, but had two runner-ups, seven top-10s and 14 top-25 finishes while getting everyone to root for him each week. Other rookies did get wins, but I like Cole here.
Comeback player of the year
Lucas Glover: Lots of contenders here, including Justin Rose and Jason Day, both among the top players in the game at one point and both back in the winner’s circle this year. But Glover, a past U.S. Open champion, not only returned to the winner’s circle, he did it two weeks in a row in August, including a win in the FedEx St. Jude Championship, the first of the three FedEx Cup playoff events on the tour. Some people went so far as to say Glover could have played himself onto the U.S. Ryder Cup team, but he didn’t get the call from captain Zach Johnson. But he did have a terrific year after winning only once since 2011.
Moment of the year
Nick Taylor winning the RBC Canadian Open: It’s not often that an entire country roars for a victory, but it happened in June when Taylor won the Canadian Open. No Canadian had won that title since 1954, and Taylor found himself in a playoff with Tommy Fleetwood, with the playoff dragging into the fourth hole. But when Taylor rolled in a 72-foot putt to win the title, all of Canada cheered. Honorable mention to Canadian Adam Hadwin, who was leveled by a security guard as Hadwin raced onto the green to celebrate with his countryman.
Tournament of the year
PGA Championship: That Brooks Koepka won the major championship is no surprise, since he had won the PGA twice before and nearly won the Masters in April. But the game’s political wrangling of the last two years made this important, since Koepka played on the LIV tour and is suspended from the PGA Tour. It was the first major win for a LIV player, and lots of fans were upset that Koepka was even allowed in the field, much less won. But perhaps it is not a coincidence that less than a month later the PGA Tour and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, the money behind the LIV tour, announced a tentative trust in their bickering.