Another week, another big trophy for Dustin Johnson, this one without any cash.
One week after he captured the FedEx Cup and its $15 million prize, Johnson was voted PGA Tour’s player of the year for the second time in the last five years. He also won the Jack Nicklaus Award, which comes with a bronze trophy of Nicklaus famously raising his putter, in 2016.
Johnson joins Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Nick Price and Fred Couples as the only players to win the award multiple times since it began in 1990.
Johnson was on the ballot with Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, PGA champion Collin Morikawa and Webb Simpson. The tour historically does not release the tally of players who voted. It was the second straight year the award went to someone who did not win a major during the season. In this year of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was only one major.
The PGA Tour has not had a repeat winner of the Jack Nicklaus Award since Tiger Woods in 2007.
Thomas won the PGA of America’s award that is based on points－10 for every PGA Tour victory, along with up to 20 points depending on where the player finished on the money list and the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average.
Thomas won three times. Johnson won three times including the Tour Championship, which did not count for the PGA of America because Johnson started with a two-shot lead. Xander Schauffele had the lowest score at the Tour Championship, though he played the final round trying to make up a five-shot deficit, while Johnson played the final four holes trying to protect a two-shot lead.
Scottie Scheffler won the Arnold Palmer Award as rookie of the year on a ballot that included Viktor Hovland, Harry Higgs and Maverick McNealy. Hovland was the only other viable candidate from winning the Puerto Rico Open. Scheffler didn’t win, but he had seven top-10s, including a tie for fourth in the PGA Championship, and he finished No 5 in the FedEx Cup.
Asian events off
For the first time in 45 years, the LPGA Tour will not be going to Asia this year.
The tour lost three tournaments from its Asia swing in late February and early March at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Tuesday, the LPGA said two more tournaments scheduled for October in South Korea and Japan were canceled for 2020 and will return next year.
Two other events in the Chinese mainland and Chinese Taipei that were previously part of the fall swing were canceled because of travel restrictions and quarantine requirements.
The LPGA first started playing in Asia with the Mizuno Classic in Japan in 1976. The LPGA Tour added a one-time event called the LPGA Drive On Championship-Reynolds Lake Oconee. That will be Oct 22-25 in Greensboro, Georgia, for a purse of $1.3 million.
The LPGA also had a “Drive On “tournament at Inverness to mark its return to golf on July 31.
Losing the Asia swing creates some time off for the LPGA that leads to a big finish. After the KPMG Women’s PGA at Aronimink from Oct 8-11, there will be a week off before the new Drive On tournament, and then three weeks off before an event in the Tampa Bay area in Florida.
After Thanksgiving, the LPGA finishes with a tournament in the Dallas area, the US Women’s Open in Houston and the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Florida.
A tournament that began with fathers and sons playing together is getting a new name to reflect a field that also includes daughters and even grandchildren.
The PNC Father Son Challenge, which began in 1995, this year becomes the PNC Championship, which includes a sponsorship renewal by PNC Bank. It will be played Dec 18-20 in Orlando, Florida.
The field is for major champions or winners of The Players Championship and their partners. Annika Sorenstam played last year with her father. Jack Nicklaus often plays with his grandson. Bernhard Langer has played with two sons and two daughters. Langer won last year with his son, Jason.