There have been two promising twentysomethings standing aspect by aspect on the 18th inexperienced on the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Membership in Atlanta. Justin Thomas, 24, who’d completed second within the event, raised the FedEx Cup trophy following his season of excellence.
Xander Schauffele, one yr youthful, hoisted the winner’s silver Calamity Jane putter – a nod to East Lake’s Bobby Jones – after profitable his second PGA Tour title in three months. (He additionally gained the Greenbrier in July.)
Final week, when participant voting commenced and the time arrived to announce the PGA Tour’s prime postseason honors, those self same two gamers shared the stage once more. Thomas captured the Jack Nicklaus Award because the PGA Tour’s Participant of the Yr; Schauffele was honored because the circuit’s prime rookie.
A yr in the past, Thomas began his season with one profession PGA Tour victory. He then gained 5 occasions, landed his first main, captured the season-lengthy FedEx Cup race and represented the U.S. for the primary time as a professional on considered one of its nationwide groups, competing within the Presidents Cup.
The spotlight for Thomas arrived in August, when he gained the PGA Championship at Quail Hole in Charlotte. It was additional significant to him not solely as a result of it was his first main title, however due to his golf bloodlines. He’s the son (and grandson) of PGA of America professionals. Justin’s dad, Mike, has been his solely instructor.
He took the large Wanamaker Trophy to neighbor Rickie Fowler’s home in Jupiter, Fla., forward of Hurricane Irma and had Fowler safe it in his in-floor protected. However now that Thomas has retrieved it, it serves as a reminder of his magical season. He can’t assist however smile when he sees it.
“I’ve like a bit of bookcase,” Thomas stated, “and it’s slightly greater than the opposite trophies I’ve. Nevertheless it’s (on) type of a pleasant little ledge above the fireside in my front room that it simply matches good, proper once you stroll within the entrance door. I feel I’m going to go away it there.”
Thomas was chosen as POY over candidates Dustin Johnson, who gained the award in 2016, Hideki Matsuyama and Jordan Spieth, the 2015 winner. All three gained three or extra occasions in 2016-17.
Thomas defended on the CIMB in Malaysia final autumn, gained again-to-again in Hawaii in January (SBS and Sony, capturing fifty nine on the latter), established a U.S. Open report in relation to par by capturing 9-beneath sixty three at Wisconsin’s Erin Hills in June, and gained the PGA in August. He additionally gained the second FedEx Cup Playoffs occasion (Dell Applied sciences at TPC Boston) and secured the FedEx Cup with a runner-up end on the Tour Championship, the place he completed one shot behind Schauffele.
Thomas was fulfilling some media obligations Wednesday when Nicklaus popped in to shock him, congratulating him for being acknowledged because the Tour’s prime participant this season.
“It’s an enormous honor,” stated Thomas, who completed three-1-1 in a profitable U.S. effort in his first Presidents Cup. “Any time you possibly can win an award with somebody like Jack Nicklaus’ identify on the award, it undoubtedly means so much. It’s one thing that I’ll cherish for some time, for positive.”
Schauffele, like Thomas, is a member of the gifted highschool Class of 2011. He was plodding alongside at No. 352 on the earth in early June, having missed six cuts in thirteen begins, when he gained a 5-gamers-for-two-spots playoff at U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying in Tennessee. Quickly he was off and operating.
Schauffele tied for fifth on the U.S. Open, gained at Greenbrier a number of weeks later and performed his final six holes in 6 underneath on the BMW Championship simply to get to the Tour Championship. As soon as there, he ended up profitable the season finale.
Schauffele is the fourth Class of 2011 member to earn ROY honors, following Spieth (2013), Daniel Berger (2015) and Emiliano Grillo (2016).
(Notice: This story seems within the Oct. 9, 2017 challenge of Golfweek.)