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Johnson, Scheffler favorites for tour’s top participant, rookie

ATLANTA (AP) – Dustin Johnson gained the silver trophy because the FedEx Cup champion. Odds are he quickly will decide up one other trophy, this one a bronze selection within the picture of Jack Nicklaus.

The vote for PGA Tour participant of the 12 months was up within the air going into the Tour Championship, with just one main being performed and 6 gamers with a number of victories. The winner at East Lake was considered the front-runner. Johnson’s victory gave him three titles this season, tied with Justin Thomas.

With the quick turnaround to the brand new season – two days between the ultimate putt at East Lake and the opening drive on the Safeway Open in California – the ballots have been going out this week to the gamers.

For the PGA Tour participant of the 12 months, the candidates have been Johnson, Thomas, PGA champion Collin Morikawa (two wins), Webb Simpson (two wins) and Jon Rahm (two wins).

Thomas gained his three in October, January and August, all in opposition to robust fields, all three of his victories in opposition to restricted fields that had no minimize (CJ Cup in South Korea, Sentry Tournament of Championship and a World Golf Championship). Johnson gained the Travelers Championship and The Northern Trust to associate with his FedEx Cup title he gained on the Tour Championship. He additionally was runner-up to Morikawa on the PGA Championship.

More fascinating would be the vote for PGA Tour rookie of the 12 months.

The race is between Scottie Scheffler and Viktor Hovland, with Harry Higgs and Maverick McNealey added to the poll, presumably to fill house.

Hovland is the one rookie to have gained this 12 months, on the Puerto Rico Open the identical week because the World Golf Championship in Mexico City the place Scheffler was enjoying.

They have been the one rookies to succeed in East Lake, and Scheffler had a 66-65 weekend to complete alone in fifth. Hovland tied for twentieth on the Tour Championship. So it’s a matter of how a lot gamers who vote worth a victory, even in opposition to a weak area that didn’t embody anybody from the top 50.

Scheffler had seven top 10s, in contrast with three for Hovland. He additionally performed within the remaining group on the PGA Championship, the place he tied for fourth.

Meanwhile, Webb Simpson wrapped up the Vardon Trophy for the bottom adjusted scoring common. Thomas gained the cash record with $7,344,040. It was the third time within the final 4 years Thomas has gained the cash title, despite the fact that the tour stopped presenting an award for that.

Thomas will get a trophy from the PGA of America for its points-based award for participant of the 12 months. Because golf was not performed for three months, the race ended earlier than the Tour Championship. Thomas gained on the energy of three wins (every value 10 factors), 20 factors for successful the cash record and 16 factors for being third in scoring common.

MASTERS CROWD

Augusta National introduced final month that spectators wouldn’t be allowed when the Masters is performed in November. That’s to not say the course will probably be fully empty.

Players within the area discovered final week in a letter from the membership that they are going to be allowed to deliver their spouses or important others. Left unclear, and doubtless unlikely, is whether or not that visitor record will prolong to oldsters, siblings and different members of the family.

Competitors sometimes get eight visitor passes for the Masters.

For the spouses or companions coming for the primary time, it is going to be an Augusta National they’ve by no means seen, primarily as a result of they’ll be capable of see with out having to look over the shoulders of 1000’s of spectators. But they’ll miss out on the sounds of the Masters, which will be as memorable because the surroundings.

Sebastian Munoz is among the many newcomers to the Masters and hopes his girlfriend can get the very best of each worlds. He certified for this 12 months’s Masters (initially to be performed in April) by successful the Sanderson Farms Open final September. He additionally will probably be within the subsequent Masters as a result of he reached the Tour Championship.

“It would be difficult if her only Masters was without fans,” Munoz mentioned. “Hopefully, they’ll be there for the next one.”

SO MUCH FOR PLANNING

Rory McIlroy and his spouse, Erica, discovered they have been anticipating their first youngster over the vacations whereas in Ireland, and a few fast math would have proven excellent timing. She was due in early September, proper after the FedEx Cup season ended.

“I was expecting a very quiet fall,” McIlroy mentioned. “I thought, ‘October, November, December, three months at home watching my daughter grow up a little bit. That’ll be nice.’”

And then golf shut down for three months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which upended the calendar.

Poppy Kennedy McIlroy was born two weeks earlier than the U.S. Open. Still to return is the Masters in November, one other shot for McIlroy to get the profession Grand Slam.

After the U.S. Open, McIlroy plans to play the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek in Las Vegas, and the next week within the Zozo Championship at Sherwood in California. Two weeks later he has the Masters, and that’s it.

“So I’ve got a couple of three-week chunks there that I can spend time at home and enjoy it,” he mentioned. “And the post-Masters, I’ve got a couple months to really enjoy it.”

OPEN AND CLOSED

Reaching the Tour Championship comes with the perk of being exempt for the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open, and the PGA Championship was just about a lock as a result of it’s primarily based on a cash record and all 30 gamers at East Lake would have earned sufficient, anyway.

But the cancellation of the British Open this 12 months because of the pandemic offered a unique situation.

The area for Royal’s St. George’s, had it been performed in July, would have included the 30 gamers who made it to East Lake final 12 months. As for the 30 gamers who made it to the Tour Championship this 12 months? That’s to be decided.

The R&A; despatched out a discover final week saying it should honor all exemptions that had been determined by April 6, the day the 149th Open was pushed again to 2021. At the time, 106 gamers have been exempt for the 156-man area.

“With only 50 places left for all qualifiers and new exemptions, there will be a reduction in the number of places available at certain championships and money lists over the year,” the R&A; mentioned. “That includes the Tour Championship.”

Of the 30-man area this 12 months, 16 weren’t at East Lake a 12 months in the past, an inventory that features Scottie Scheffler and Harris English, Mackenzie Hughes and Billy Horschel. Two others, Joaquin Niemann and Cameron Smith, would have made it to Royal St. George’s this 12 months from being on the Presidents Cup group.

The R&A; is reviewing find out how to fill the ultimate 50 spots. Among the final to get in was Joel Dahmen, who tied for fifth on the Arnold Palmer Invitational. That was the final of the International Final Qualifying collection earlier than the pandemic shut down golf.

Two different IFQ websites in America, the RBC Canadian Open and John Deere Classic, have been canceled this 12 months. Another was the Travelers Championship, the place the 2 spots would have gone to Hughes and Kevin Streelman. But then, that was held after the Open had been canceled.

“Players should not make assumptions about exemptions based on previous years’ events,” the R&A; mentioned.

DIVOTS

The 30-man area on the Tour Championship was represented by a 12 nations, essentially the most because the FedEx Cup started in 2007. Every continent had a minimum of two gamers besides for Africa, which had none. … For the primary time, the common age of the 30 gamers was at East Lake was underneath 30 (29.33). Ryan Palmer (43) was the one participant in his 40s. … Americans have gained 4 of the 9 LPGA occasions which have been held this 12 months. … Country singer Colt Ford, who as soon as performed professionally, is making his PGA Tour Champions debut on a sponsor exemption. The different sponsor exemption has gone to Gary Nicklaus.

STAT OF THE WEEK

The ANA Inspiration is lacking seven out of the top 20 within the ladies’s world rating, all from Asia, due to journey concerned amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

FINAL WORD

“When I went through all three stages of Q-school and got my tour card, I think they gave me a $25,000 check. I thought I was rich because I didn’t have but a couple hundred bucks in my bank account probably.” – Dustin Johnson, after successful the $15 million prize as FedEx Cup champion.

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