With the conclusion of the Tour Championship, we're at a natural break point for the PGA Tour. So why not take a moment to reflect back on the best moments of this year? It was a time when unknowns seized the stage and unbelievable drama resulted in some of the best tournaments in years. Finally, we'll wrap things up with five who have a shot at taking home the tour's Player or the Year award.
(Note: Rory McIlroy wasn't included on out list because he's not a full-time PGA Tour member.)
Luke Donald: If this award was given to a player based solely on his consistency during the season, Luke Donald would probably win in a landslide. Throw out a missed cut in his first event in the season and the Englishman's worst finish, on American soil, was a T-45 at the U.S. Open. Every other tournament he played in this year saw him finish inside the top-18. Winner of the Accenture Match Play -- an event where he never saw the 18th hole all week -- he also had 13 top-10 finishes in 2011. Another tour win would have turned the POY race into a rout.
Keegan Bradley: The kid from Vermont had a dream season in his rookie year on the PGA Tour. He's already wrapped up the Rookie of the Year award, but for the first time in the history of the tour, we could see the ROY take home the POY. OK, I'll stop with the abbreviations. Bradley captured his first tour victory in a playoff at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, and followed it up with, what else, another playoff victory later in the year at the PGA Championship. He's enjoying one of the greatest seasons by a rookie we've ever seen, and based on the quality of his two victories, he certainly has a shot to take home the tour's top honor.
Webb Simpson: There was a time earlier this year where you had to wonder if Webb Simpson was ever going to win on tour. Following a gut-wrenching playoff defeat to Bubba Watson, that included a one-stroke penalty for his ball moving after addressing a putt, you figured karma would pay him back. It certainly did three months later, as Simpson won the Wyndham ... and then promptly rolled his good fortune into a playoff win at the Deutsche Bank. He came oh-so-close to taking home the FedEx Cup, and with two wins this season, he has to be part of the equation.
Bubba Watson: Another member of the multiple wins club, Watson defeated Phil Mickelson early in the season at the Farmers Insurance, and followed it up four months later with a win at the Zurich Classic, thereby cementing his place as the best American golfer for a short time. Watson erratic play late in the season -- he only posted on top-20 finish in his final 12 starts -- could be a mark against him. Even still, it's hard to pick on a guy with two quality wins.
Steve Stricker: The most unassuming guy on the PGA Tour certainly had a nice season. For the third year in a row, Stricker was a multiple tour winner, capturing the Memorial against one of the strongest fields in the game, and then following it up one month later with a dramatic win at the John Deere. His consistency was present again in 2011, but a herniated disk in his neck ruined what could have been an even better year.
We've got our preference, but we'll let you decide. So who's your pick? Got another nominee? Go!
- PGA Tour
- Bubba Watson
- Luke Donald