Thomas faces stiff challenge for top award

NEW YORK • Justin Thomas' breakout campaign earned him a nomination for the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award along with Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama and Jordan Spieth on Monday.

The American, who wrapped up the PGA of America's points-based award for player of the year by winning the FedExCup and US$10 million (S$13.5 million) bonus on Sunday, had five wins this season, including a triumph at the PGA Championship for his first Major title.

The 24-year-old also joined Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Spieth as the only players since 1960 to earn five wins, including a Major, in a season before the age of 25.

World No. 1 Johnson, who won the award last year, had four wins in the 20 events he entered, including triumphs at the lucrative World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship and WGC-Dell Technologies Matchplay events.

The 33-year-old American, whose red-hot run of three consecutive wins was interrupted after being sidelined by a back injury suffered on the eve of the US Masters in April, enjoyed eight top-10 finishes in the season and was fourth in the FedExCup play-offs.

Spieth, who was named the PGA Tour's Player of the Year in 2015, had victories at the British Open, where he earned his third career Major, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Travelers Championship.

  • THIS SEASON'S TOP PGA TOUR GOLFERS

  • JUSTIN THOMAS UNITED STATES, 24

    WINS: 5

    • CIMB Classic

    • SBS Tournament of Champions

    • Sony Open in Hawaii

    • PGA Championship

    • Dell Technologies Championship

    TOP 10s: 12

    MAJORS

    • Masters: Tied-22

    • US Open: T9

    • The Open: Cut

    • PGA Championship: 1st

    FEDEXCUP RANK: 1

    PRIZE MONEY (1ST)

    US$9,921,560 (S$13.4 million)

  • DUSTIN JOHNSON UNITED STATES, 33

    WINS: 4

    • WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play

    • WGC-Mexico Championship

    • Genesis Open

    • The Northern Trust

    TOP 10s: 8

    MAJORS

    • Masters: Withdrew

    • US Open: Cut

    • The Open: T54

    • PGA Championship: T13

    FEDEXCUP RANK: 4

    PRIZE MONEY (3RD) US$8,732,193

  • HIDEKI MATSUYAMA JAPAN, 25

    WINS: 3

    • WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

    • WGC-HSBC Champions

    • Waste Management Phoenix Open

    TOP 10s:  7

    MAJORS

    • Masters: T11

    • US Open: T2

    • The Open: T14

    • PGA Championship: T5

    FEDEXCUP RANK: 8

    PRIZE MONEY (4TH) US$8,380,570

  • JORDAN SPIETH UNITED STATES, 24

    WINS: 3

    • Travelers Championship

    • AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

    • The Open Championship

    TOP 10s: 12

    MAJORS

    • Masters: T11

    • US Open: T35

    • The Open: 1st

    • PGA Championship: T28

    FEDEXCUP RANK: 2

    PRIZE MONEY (2ND) US$9,433,033

    SOURCE: PGATOUR.COM

The 24-year-old Texan also recorded 12 top-10 finishes, which tied Thomas for the most this season. He also had top-10 finishes in all four FedExCup play-off events.

Japan's Matsuyama, 25, had earned victories at the WGC-HSBC Champions, Waste Management Phoenix Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and finished eighth in the FedExCup.

Voting for the accolade, known as the Jack Nicklaus Award to honour the record 18-time Major winner, will close next Monday, with the winners to be announced later in the week.

Wesley Bryan, Patrick Cantlay, Mackenzie Hughes, Grayson Murray and Tour Championship winner Xander Schauffele were the five nominees for the PGA Tour's Rookie of the Year award.

Both awards are determined by a member vote, with PGA Tour members who played in at least 15 official money events during the 2016-17 season eligible to participate.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2017, with the headline 'Thomas faces stiff challenge for top award'. Print Edition | Subscribe