Scottie Scheffler took home the Jack Nicklaus award as PGA Tour Player of the Year for 2022, and it was certainly well deserved after such a fantastic season—but it was definately not a “slam dunk” as some are saying. When you take a close look at the season Rory McIlroy put together, you pretty much need a razor blade to separate them.
Scheffler’s win at The Masters was a brilliant performance, but keep in mind that Rory finished runner-up at Augusta with a magnificent final round 64 (a shot off the lowest rounds ever recorded at The Masters—63 by Nick Price in ’86 and again by Greg Norman in ’96).
Scottie also had a superb run at the 2022 U.S. Open, finishing a shot behind Matthew Fitzpatrick for runner-up. But remember that Rory was also among the leaders at The Country Club on Sunday afternoon, finishing with a T5.
And while Scottie missed the cut at the PGA Championship, and was outside the top 20 at The Open Championship, Rory recorded a Top 10 at the PGA (8th) and finished 3rd at The Open.
In 16 rounds at the major championships in 2022, Rory recorded 9 rounds under 70 with a scoring average of 69.2, while Scottie recorded 7 rounds under 70 with a scoring average of 69.7.
Although Rory was unable to record a major win in 2022, finishing in the top 10 at all four majors is a rarely accomplished feat. Tiger did it in 2000 when he recorded a T5 at The Masters and then won the other 3 major championships. Jack did it 3 times (1971, 1973, 1974), Brooks Koepka did it in his fantastic 2019 season (win at the PGA, 2nd at the U.S. Open, T2 at The Masters and a T4 at The Open Championship) and Rickie Fowler recorded Top-5 finishes at all four majors in 2014 (including runner-up at the U.S. Open and The Open Championship).
Scottie gets the edge with a major win and a runner-up, but Rory had one of the most outstanding major championship seasons on record—so it’s pretty darn close.
The Tour Season
In addition to his Masters win, Scheffler recorded 3 regular tour wins (including the WGC Match Play Championship). McIlroy also recorded 3 regular season wins, including the Tour Championship. Rory made the cut in 14 of the 16 events he played in 2022 (88%) and recorded 10 Top 10 finishes (63%), while Scottie made the cut in 21 of 25 events (84%) with 11 Top-10’s (44%).
From a performance standpoint, Rory led the Tour in scoring average at 68.7 and he was 2nd in driving distance at 321.3. Scottie was fourth in scoring average at 69.3 and 19th in driving distance at 311.6—but Scheffler was #1 in greens in regulation (72.3%) while Rory was #12 at 69.9 %.
Both Scottie and Rory had phenomenal regular seasons on Tour, and from the numbers it looks pretty much like a flat-footed tie.
The FedEx Cup
Scottie Scheffler was No. 1 in the FedEx Cup standings going into the Tour Championship, so under the new format he began the tournament at -10, six shots ahead of Rory who was No. 7 and began at -4.
Scheffler and McIlroy played flawless golf through the first 3 rounds, and both were -13 going into Sunday’s final round—but Scottie still held a six-shot advantage due to the FedEx standings adjustment (Scheffler was -23 and Rory was at -17).
Although Rory wasn’t able to put four fantastic rounds together at any of the 2022 major championships, he put the hammer down at the Tour Championship and fired a closing 66 to finish at -17 (21 under total with the adjustment). When Scheffler faltered with a final round 73 (20 under total), McIlroy had erased the massive deficit to take the championship—and also the FedEx Cup for a record third time.
The Wrap Up
Scottie Scheffler had a great year in 2022, and he will be a force to reckon with on the PGA Tour for many years to come. His win at The Masters, strong showing at the U.S. Open, and consistent performance throughout the year make it hard to argue with his choice as Player of the Year.
With his impressive comeback victory at the Tour Championship and third FedEx Cup, however, McIlroy closed the gap with Scottie to a photo finish—and most certainly not a Scheffler “slam dunk” as some are saying.
Rory played only 16 events on the PGA Tour in 2022 (he also played 2 on the DP World Tour, finishing 3rd at the Dubai Desert Classic and runner-up at the BMW PGA Championship), while Scottie played 25 Tour events, and that also moves the needle a bit more toward Scheffler—but we think Rory edged him by a nose with his third FedEx Cup.
One thing is for sure, the 2022-2023 PGA Tour season (and major championships) are going to be pretty exciting with Scottie and Rory going head-to-head.
When you put Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantley, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Jordan Spieth and Tony Finau into the mix, and then top it off with young stars like Sungjae Im, Cameron Young, Will Zalatoris and Victor Hoveland—2023 is shaping up to be one heck of a year on the PGA Tour.