The PGA Tour announced the nominees for the 2021-22 Jack Nicklaus Award (Player of the Year) and Arnold Palmer Award (Rookie of the Year) Monday morning.
The three highest-ranked players in the world – Scottie Scheffler, Cameron Smith and Rory McIlroy – are the candidates for Player of the Year.
Tom Kim, Sahith Theegala and Cameron Young will be voted on for the honor of Tour’s top rookie this past season.
McIlroy spoke briefly about Player of the Year voting after besting Scheffler to win the Tour Championship.
“Scottie Scheffler is going to win the Player of the Year,” McIlroy said. “There's no doubt about that. You know, it would have been fitting for him to end his breakout season with a FedExCup title.”
Calling Scheffler’s most recent campaign a breakout is an understatement. The former Longhorn was the 15th-ranked player in the world when he arrived at TPC Scottsdale for the WM Phoenix Open and was still in search of his first Tour victory.
Scheffler proceeded to win four of his next six starts, ascending to world No. 1 after winning the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play. The 2022 Masters champion has yet to relinquish the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Smith was a three-time Tour winner last season: the Sentry Tournament of Champions, The Players Championship and The Open. The Australian star elected to join LIV Golf after the Tour Championship and was suspended by the Tour after participating in LIV’s most recent event in Boston.
McIlroy also finished the season with three victories: The CJ Cup, RBC Canadian Open and Tour Championship. The only three-time FedExCup champion finished inside the top 10 at all four major championships and led the Tour in scoring average at 68.67, which was the lowest average on Tour since 2009, matching Tiger Woods’ 68.67 average that season.
As far as the rookies are concerned, Young positioned himself as the favorite with a number of stellar finishes throughout the season. The former Wake Forest star finished the season with seven top-10s, including five second-place finishes. Young finished just a shot out of a playoff at the PGA Championship and finished runner-up behind only Smith at The Open. He qualified for the Tour Championship and finished No. 19 in the FedExCup.
Theegala had near-victories at the WM Phoenix Open and Travelers Championship, finishing T-3 and T-2 in those events, respectively. The Pepperdine product qualified for the Tour Championship and finished No. 28 in the FedExCup.
Kim made his way on to this list courtesy his maiden Tour victory at the Wyndham Championship. Securing the win at the Tour’s regular-season finale gave him full Tour status and qualified him for the FedExCup Playoffs. The South Korean finished the season at No. 35 in the FedExCup.
The Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year awards are determined by a member vote, with Tour members who played in at least 15 official FedExCup events during the 2021-22 season eligible to vote. The voting will close Friday, September 9, at 5 p.m. ET. The winners will be announced at a later date.