Who Is The 2011 Player of the Year?

It is nice to talk about Player of the Year and not have to include Tiger Woods in the discussion. But then I just did, didn’t I?

The records of the five candidates for the 2011 Player of the Year reflect a new parity on the Tour. There were a lot of one-time winners, just a couple of two-timers and no repeats in this year’s Majors. I can’t recall a year when there were so many playoffs (although a statistics nut likely will tell me otherwise). Accordingly, none of this year’s nominees have had a season for the ages. But they do have the best of the year.

Bill Haas – Bill Haas got his win at the Tour Championship and was in playoffs at the Greenbriar and the Hope. He finished first on the FedEx Cup points list and seventh in the money. And yet, that may be the least impressive resume of the five nominees.

Nick Watney – Two wins and ten top tens put Watney at third on the money list and ninth in FedEx Cup points. That’s a very good year, but not enough for Player of the Year honors.

Webb Simpson – Simpson’s record looks a lot like Watney’s: very good, but a little short. He has two wins and twelve top tens on the way to a second in FedEx Cup points and on the official money list.

Keegan Bradley – Bradley has two victories like Haas, Simpson and Watney. He also had four top tens. But what makes his record superior is that one of those wins was a Major. That goes a long way in catching my attention.

Luke Donald – In spite of the glaring lack of a Major, I think it would be hard to deny that Donald had the best year of the five. He had victories at the WGC-Accenture Match Play and the Children’s Miracle Network Classic. He was first on the money list and third in the FedEx Cup. Add to that 14 top tens and the Vardon Trophy for lowest adjusted scoring average. Even without a Major, that’s a Player of the Year performance.

I mentioned before that none of the players this year had a “season for the ages.” I’m actually torn about Donald, though. In addition to winning the PGA Tour money list, he’s got a real chance of topping the European Tour’s Order of Merit. Donald also currently is first on the Road to Dubai. Neither of those accomplishments count toward PGA Tour Player of the Year, but they do help establish this as a historical season.

Donald for Player of the Year on both the PGA and European Tours.

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