JOEL SCHUCHMANN: My name is Joel Schuchmann, Director of Communications with the PGA TOUR. At this time it is my pleasure to introduce the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, Tim Finchem.
TIM FINCHEM:Thank you, Joel, and good morning, everyone. The votes are in from our players on two key recognitions we do every year. The players are asked to vote on who they consider to be the PGA TOUR Player of the Year, and we'll get to that in a few moments, and they're also asked to vote on who they believe is the PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year, and let me start with the announcement that John Huh has been voted the PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year. He is not on this call. We have a separately scheduled conference call for later today and we invite you to join us for that.
Let me just say briefly that John had a tremendous year. He broke through for his first win at Mayakoba during an eight?hole playoff with Robert Allenby. He was the only rookie to qualify for the TOUR Championship by Coca?Cola. At 22 years old, he was the youngest player to qualify for the TOUR Championship since Sergio Garcia did in 2001 at the age of 21. He finished 29th in the FedExCup, and he is the first player of Korean descent to be voted PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year. We congratulate John, and we encourage you to make yourself available to ask him some questions later today.
Turning to the PGA TOUR Player of the Year, we're delighted to announce, and it's no surprise, that Rory McIlroy was voted by the players and his peers as the best Player of the Year. He also, as you already know, has earned the Arnold Palmer Award as the Tour's leading official money winner at slightly over $8 million. In addition, he's the winner of the Byron Nelson Award and Vardon Trophy presented by the PGA of America. The Byron Nelson Award is the award we present for the adjusted scoring average. He had an adjusted scoring average of 68.87, and we congratulate Rory on all three of those wins.
If I could make a couple of comments about his recognition, he is at 23 the youngest player to be voted PGA TOUR Player of the Year since Tiger Woods in 1998. He had a terrific year, winning four times on the PGA TOUR, capturing the Honda Classic, the PGA Championship, the Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship, really lighting it up during the FedExCup Playoffs.
Following his victory at the Honda Classic, he took over world No.1 and has held that position for 24 weeks during the year, currently 17 or 18 in a row.
He is the third European to be voted PGA TOUR Player of the Year, joining England's Luke Donald in 2011 and Ireland's Padraig Harrington in 2008, and as the players voted, they were looking at a stout ballot because Rory was on the ballot with Jason Dufner, who had a fine year; Brandt Snedeker, who won the FedExCup; Bubba Watson, who played well all year and won the Masters; and Tiger Woods, who won three times.
So congratulations to Rory on his competitive accomplishments during the course of the year, and certainly the players came down in that recognition in solid style.
I would like to just, before I turn it over to Rory, make another comment, which is to say that in addition to Rory's accomplishments inside the ropes, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that he has been a significant contributor to what the PGA TOUR is all about outside the ropes. He has handled himself in terrific fashion. He has been very direct with the media and entertaining to the fans inside and outside the ropes. He is at a very young age already making a very solid contribution to what is the most important asset of the PGA TOUR, and that is the image of its players.
For that I thank him, as well, and I'd like to introduce him to you and ask him to make a few comments, and then we'll open it up for a few questions. Rory, congratulations.
RORY McILROY:Thank you, Tim. Thanks for your kind words. It's an honor, and I'm delighted to win the PGA TOUR's Player of the Year. It's always nice to get recognition from your peers, the guys that you're trying to beat week in, week out, and obviously there's been a lot of guys on the PGA TOUR that have had great years this year, obviously Tiger winning three times, Bubba winning the Masters and playing well, Jason Dufner breaking through for a couple of wins, Brandt Snedeker winning the FedExCup. So to beat those guys is very -- it's a nice feeling. It's very rewarding, and I guess it's just a great way to end what has been a great year and my best season so far.
Q. I just wanted to ask you, if you go into the weekend of the PGA, at that point you've only got one win this year really on the U.S. Tour, and the tail end of the year was just phenomenal. I wonder if you could talk about what that win at Kiawah did for you compared with the way you won Congressional and kind of the way you sputtered after that if that makes any sense.
RORY McILROY:Yeah, I think everyone knows that my game wasn't where I wanted it to be sort of through the start of the summer and leading up to the PGA. But I felt like the week before in Akron I had a good week. I finished fifth and actually got a bit of confidence from that. I felt like my game was coming back to where I wanted it to be.
And then I guess -- of course every time I go into a major I have expectations, but maybe at the PGA my expectations were maybe slightly lower just because of the form that I was in, and I got myself into a great position going into the weekend, and I just sort of -- I didn't want to sort of let this opportunity pass me because it was a great opportunity to win my second major, and obviously I was able to do it, and from that I gained a lot of confidence, knowing that I could win my second major. And I went on from there.
Q. I was just wondering if you could tell us who came in second and by how much, for Player of the Year.
TIM FINCHEM:We don't release votes. We've never released all the votes of places, we just release the winner.
Q. Just a quick one on something Graeme said at Sherwood the other day. He mentioned in a very positive way that he felt over the last 15, 16 months your personality had changed a little bit and you'd become very focused and very single?minded. Do you feel that you've transformed yourself mentally over the past year and a half, and in what way how have you done that?
RORY McILROY:I mean, I've always felt like I've been dedicated to the game, and I've practiced hard and I've worked at it. But I guess over the past 18 months, especially after winning the U.S. Open, I sort of felt like I went to the next level or the next stage of my career. You know, I feel like my personality away from the golf course hasn't changed, but definitely when I get to the golf course I'm maybe a little more professional, a little more businesslike and go about my business like that. But I guess that's just the way you have to be to be successful and to try and win as many tournaments as you can. You have to approach it that way, and I feel like I have probably changed my mindset a little bit over the past 12 or 18 months, and it's definitely helped and obviously helped me to win more tournaments.
Q. There was a suggestion that maybe your girlfriend had a lot to do with that, as well.
RORY McILROY:Yeah, a little bit. Seeing how hard she works and how hard she practices and how dedicated she is, it definitely, I guess, flipped a switch with me that I could be a little more like that. Yeah, it's definitely -- she's definitely been a great influence on me.
Q. Despite the roadblocks you had in May and early June this year, it seems like you have the last couple of years been a really strong player in the second half of the year. Is there a particular reason for that, or is there a reason why you feel like you close the year so well?
RORY McILROY:I'm not so sure. It seems like the last couple years I've started the season well and finished the season well and maybe had a little bit of a lull in the middle. You know, I haven't really thought about it too much. I can't really put my finger on why that is. But yeah, I mean, I guess the -- maybe I feel like the golf courses really suited me during the Playoffs, and I really liked Kiawah Island, as well. I felt like TPC Boston and Crooked Stick really played to my strengths and my game, and I was able to take advantage of that and get a couple of wins there.
But I don't know, I guess in the middle of the season, as well, you're playing quite a lot of golf, and I've sort of figured out that that doesn't really work for me, and I've got to maybe schedule a little bit better and space out my tournaments a little bit so that I'm fresh and I'm ready to play every single week.
Q. And as a follow?up on that, obviously you have an affinity for Augusta, but how do you think Merion, Muirfield and Oak Hill work for you next year going into the majors?
RORY McILROY:Yeah, I mean, I've never played Muirfield, I've never been to Oak Hill, and I've never been to Merion. They're going to be three new experiences for me, three new courses, and I've just got to try and prepare for them as best as I can. I know Merion is quite a short golf course by today's standards, so I think accuracy will be a key there. Muirfield I've heard is probably the fairest of all the Open courses, so I'm really looking forward to that. And I don't really know much about Oak Hill, so I've just got to, as I say, try and prepare well and try and learn the golf courses as best I can.
Q. When you kind of opened up this call -- by the way, what tunnel did you go through?
RORY McILROY:A tunnel in Boston somewhere.
Q. When you said early on that it was a great way to end what's been your best year, best season so far, how can you best, I guess, define how much better you can get?
RORY McILROY:I mean, I guess I've sort of had to answer that question a lot the last few weeks, what can you do next season to try and get better and what would be a success next season compared to this one, and I guess it's just trying to become a better golfer, a better player, maybe add more variety to my game, add a couple more shots here and there. I still feel like I can improve in all aspects of the game. And if I can do that, and my focus is on that, then hopefully the tournament wins and the success will come.
But you know, we are judged on wins ultimately, and this year has been a great year with four wins on the PGA TOUR and winning in Dubai a couple weeks ago, so -- but next thing, I won my first major in '11, I backed it up this season with another one, and I'd love to go into '13 with that same goal of obviously trying to win another major. But I think really what was disappointing this year for me, if there was a disappointment, that I was only in contention once in the majors, and luckily I was able to win it. But next year I'd love to be in contention in all four of them and have a chance to win all -- not saying I'm going to win all of them, but at least give myself a chance.
Q. When you talk about the way you closed out '11 and especially from the PGA on this year, did you ever show up at a tournament not thinking necessarily you were the guy to beat but expecting to see your name up there on the board? Did you reach that level of confidence, I guess?
RORY McILROY:Not really. I mean, a 72?hole golf tournament, it's a long way, and I think you can never go into it expecting your name to be on the leaderboard or trying to be on the leaderboard right away because your name mightn't be on the leaderboard until you make a charge on the front nine on Sunday and you get yourself up there. So of course I expect myself to play well and contend and obviously try to win as many tournaments as I can, but I don't think you can go into tournaments thinking that you're the guy to beat because there's 155 other guys there that are great players and you're just one of them, and you're just trying to shoot the best score possible.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: That concludes today's teleconference. Rory, congratulations, and best of luck in 2013.