McIlroy wowed as Nicklaus hands him PGA Tour player of the year prize

By Sports Desk September 11, 2019

FedEx Cup champion Rory McIlroy has been named the PGA Tour player of the year for a third time - and it gave him "goosebumps" to be told by Jack Nicklaus.

The 30-year-old Northern Irishman last month won the Tour Championship.to seal a second FedEx Cup triumph, earning a $15million windfall.

McIlroy has landed three PGA Tour titles - a tally matched only by Brooks Koepka - and finished in the top 10 on 14 occasions in a consistent season.

The four-time major champion receives the Jack Nicklaus Award for his year's achievement, five years after he last secured the honour.

He was presented with the trophy by Nicklaus himself, who surprised McIlroy with the news.

"I've got goosebumps. Thank you. Wow!" McIlroy said.

Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said: "On behalf of the PGA Tour, my congratulations to Rory McIlroy on being voted the 2019 PGA Tour player of the year by the Tour’s membership,

"While there are a number of honours one can receive in this game, PGA Tour player of the year has to be among the most satisfying as it comes directly from his peers.

"Rory's season was a model of consistency punctuated by milestone victories and ultimately the FedEx Cup in Atlanta."

South Korea's Sungjae Im was named PGA Tour rookie of the year, receiving the Arnold Palmer Award.

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    Rory McIlroy admitted Brooks Koepka had a point when the world number one said he did not view the Northern Irishman as a rival, but did not appreciate being reminded about his major drought.

    Last week Koepka, winner of four majors over the past two years, dismissed the notion of McIlroy being one of his nearest challengers for golf's biggest prizes.

    "I've been out here for, what, five years. Rory hasn't won a major since I’ve been on the PGA Tour. So I just don't view it as a rivalry," Koepka had said.

    McIlroy is also a four-time major winner but it has been five years since his most recent triumph at the US PGA Championship, so he could not argue with Koepka's assessment.

    "What Brooks [Koepka] said wasn't wrong," McIlroy told GolfTV at a skins event in Japan.

    "I mean, he's been the best player in the world the last couple of years - four majors.

    "I don't think he had to remind me that I haven't won one in a while."

    McIlroy did pip Koepka to be named the PGA Tour Player of the Year last month, and he insisted the American's blunt comments had not caused a rift between the pair.

    "I love Brooks, he's a great guy," added McIlroy, who is ranked second in the world.

    "He's obviously super-competitive, like we all are. I can see where he's coming from.

    "I think if you take what Brooks said out of context then it can become this big thing that it's become. But Brooks and I are good, we're good friends."

    McIlroy was one of four men involved in a skins event in Japan ahead of the Zozo Championship – the first official PGA Tour tournament of the season, which begins on Thursday.

    He finished the tournament in third place, behind winner Jason Day and second-placed Tiger Woods, with Hideki Matsuyama coming fourth.

  • Tiger Woods feeling fit ahead of Presidents Cup following knee surgery Tiger Woods feeling fit ahead of Presidents Cup following knee surgery

    Tiger Woods said he is feeling good again after knee surgery as the 15-time major champion eyes the Presidents Cup in Australia.

    Woods underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee to repair minor cartilage damage in August, having secured a remarkable Masters success in April – his first major title in almost 11 years.

    The 43-year-old, who made a spectacular return from career-threatening back injuries in 2018 by claiming the season-ending Tour Championship, will captain the United States at the Presidents Cup, which starts in Melbourne in December.

    It remains to be seen whether Woods, who could choose himself as a captain's pick to face the International team, will play at Royal Melbourne Golf Club, but the American star is hopeful.

    "It [left knee] just kind of deteriorated over the year,'' Woods told reporters Monday at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, where the Zozo Championship – the first official PGA Tour tournament in Japan – will take place, starting Thursday.

    "It's one of the reasons we were planning on doing it last year. But I screwed up by winning the Tour Championship [in September 2018], and I thought I could keep it rolling.

    "It affected the way my back was feeling and my practice schedule. I've been down this road. That was my fifth [knee] operation. It's been nice to have it moving again and not have it catch and lock up. A lot of wear and tear over the year. It's been stressed out for a very long time, and it was nice having it cleaned up.

    "It made me more hopeful that I could do all of the above, play this week, play [the Hero World Challenge] and play Australia. The way I was feeling towards the middle part of the year, it was going to be a tall order to be able to do it all.

    "I'm excited about having this end-of-the-year run where I'm feeling fitter and I don't have the achiness that I've been dealing with for the last couple years."

    "I want to be fit and ready for the end of the year,'' Woods continued. "[I've] Been battling through this year. Nice to get over the hump and start feeling good again and go at it full speed.''

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    Colsaerts took at three-shot lead into Sunday's fourth round as he sought a first European Tour title since 2012, but his victory was far from comfortable.

    The Belgian emerged triumphant by a solitary shot over Hansen after a dramatic day, with the win ensuring the 36-year-old retains his Tour card.

    Colsaerts shot a 72 on a nervous outing in wet conditions that saw him double bogey the 15th, but he just got over the line.

    His winning score of 12 under par edged out Hansen, who made a costly double bogey on 17 and signed for a 68.

    George Coetzee was in contention until the final stages but ultimately ended up two shots adrift in third. Both he and Colsaerts were in the water on 15.

    "It's very, very special," Colsaerts said. 

    "So many people have supported me over the years, that's why I get so emotional. I went through up and downs for so many years now.

    "The French Open for me is very special because I'm French-speaking. I've been coming here for I don't know how many years, it's been a long road.

    "We knew the last four holes are always pretty dramatic, I proved it with hitting it in the water on 15. I don't know what happened on 17 with JB but it was a bit of a surprise when I got on to the green. I thought I was still going to be one behind."

    Kurt Kitayama finished fourth, while a miserable 78 for Jamie Donaldson saw him drop from a share of third overnight to a final placing of joint-23rd.

    Hansen was encouraged to come so close to glory, despite his late mistake denying him a first Tour triumph.

    "On the back nine I got excited," he said. "I really got to feel how it is to play for a European Tour tournament inside me.

    "The screw-up on 17 was unfortunate, it cost me a chance this week. I'm disappointed now but also really proud of my game."

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