LOS ANGELES • Rory McIlroy is the PGA Tour Player of the Year, and even he was a little surprised.
In a vote of the players, who presumably gave as much weight to the whole season as the four biggest weeks involving the Majors, he won the Jack Nicklaus Award over Brooks Koepka.
It was the third time McIlroy won the award, and the first time without having won a Major.
"I'm at a loss for words," the Ulsterman said on Wednesday night.
Moments earlier, McIlroy was sitting down with the American great at The Bear's Club in South Florida to receive the Byron Nelson Trophy for having the lowest adjusted scoring average when a bronze of the Nicklaus Award was placed on the table.
He looked at it and said: "I've already got two of those."
"Well, you've got three now," Nicklaus told him.
McIlroy has won three times on the PGA Tour this season, including The Players Championship and the Tour Championship to capture the FedEx Cup and its US$15 million (S$20.6 million) prize.
He also had a Tour-best 14 top-10 finishes and ended out of the top 20 only four times in 19 events.
"I couldn't be more proud to win this award for the third time," McIlroy said. "Yeah, very... somewhat surprised, but honoured my fellow players thought enough of my year to award me this honour again."
Koepka, who won the PGA of America's Player of the Year based on points, was seen as the favourite for the Tour's award. He won three times, same as McIlroy, led the FedEx Cup in the regular season and won the money title by nearly US$2 million over McIlroy.
What stood out the most in the American's season, however, were the Majors. He won the PGA Championship, joining Tiger Woods as the only back-to-back winners since the Tour switched to stroke play in 1958.
He was runner-up at the Masters and the US Open, and was joint-fourth at the British Open - Nicklaus (1973), Woods (2005) and Jordan Spieth (2015) are the only other players to have finished in the top four of every Major in a calendar year.
Separately, Im Sung-jae of South Korea was voted the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. While he did not have a Tour victory to his name, he was the only first-year player to reach the Tour Championship.