JJon Rahm finished second behind Patrick Cantlay on Sunday at East Lake, but for two days the world number 1 is back on top.
On Tuesday, the PGA of America named Rahm Player of the Year.
Unlike the PGA Tour, which awards POY based on player voting, the PGA of America uses a year-long points formula to determine its winner, with tournament wins, official monetary values, and averages in its equation. Although Rahm technically only has one win in his name – if “only” can describe his breakthrough at the 2021 US Open – he achieved the lowest score in the “Shadow” leaderboard of the Tour Championship and held a six-stroke lead through 54 holes at the memorial before a positive COVID-19 test kicked him out of the event … which Cantlay eventually won. Rahm also had five top 10 finishes in majors that season, while Cantlay’s best finish in the six marquee events was a T-15.
Rahm led the tour when it came to scoring (where he earned the Vardon Trophy), strokes won and revenue, and achieved a whopping 15 top 10 finishes in just 22 starts. For context, no other player finished this season with double-digit top 10 finishes.
Cantlay’s four wins – the 2020 Zozo Championship, 2021 Memorial, 2021 BMW Championship and 2021 FedEx Cup – stand in a season in which no other player has won more than twice. But Cantlay actually finished third in the PGA of America’s scoring system, while Bryson DeChambeau took second place. Collin Morikawa, who won the 2021 Open, finished fourth.
Could this telegraph a PGA Tour Player of the Year win for Rahm? The same player won both the PGA of America and PGA Tour Player of the Year Awards for 27 years in a row. The previous two seasons, however, have produced different winners; Brooks Koepka won the PGA of America award, but Rory McIlroy received the nod from his PGA Tour peers in 2019, with Justin Thomas (PGA of America) and Dustin Johnson (PGA Tour) sharing the honor in 2020.