As another golf season begins to wind down, it’s time to consider who have been the stars of 2011.
Who will get the Player of the Year awards?
Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke are major champions, but neither of them play as members of the PGA Tour and cannot be voted that honor; they will earn a limited number of points for PGA of America Player of the Year. Clarke or McIlroy may instead be voted European Player of the Year.
However, Masters winner Charl Schwartzel and Keegan Bradley, winner of the PGA Championship, qualify for both.
The PGA of America Player of the Year award is based strictly on points. For winning majors, there are 30 points; for the players, 20; for stroke average and position on the money list, the top 10 get points; and for each PGA Tour victory, 10 points.
On the PGA Tour, there are five players with two victories, and one has a major.
Steve Stricker, Bubba Watson, Nick Watney and Mark Wilson each have earned 20 points for victories, and Bradley has 40.
Stricker, with two victories (20), is second in scoring (18) and fourth on the money list (14). He is in the top spot for PGA of America Player of the Year with the FedEx Playoffs looming, and will need to place ahead of Luke Donald and Bradley in the next month during the Playoffs.
Luke Donald, with one victory (10) and currently leading the money list (20) as well as scoring average on the PGA Tour (20), is second in PGA Player of the Year standings.
Bradley, with a victory at the HP Byron Nelson (10) and the PGA Championship (30), is within the top five on the money list, although the stats will not post for 12 hours. With his victory, Bradley will vault to second or third place in the PGA of America Player of the Year.
As one of two PGA Tour members with major championship victories in 2011, Bradley will also be a favorite in the Player of the Year voting. Since he has a second victory—the HP Byron Nelson—he would, in theory, be voted in ahead of Schwartzel in the balloting.
But no one knows until the ballots are counted.
Schwartzel, with a victory at the Masters (30) and seventh in scoring average (8), is in the race.
The Playoffs will most likely determine the winner of the PGA Tour Player of the Year and may affect the voting for the award.
Since there are five regular-season events and four fall series events remaining, as well as the Presidents Cup, there are several victories to be captured and the intangible value of team participation to be considered in the PGA Tour balloting. Usually the leading money winner becomes the PGA Tour Player of the Year, but winning the money title is not a guarantee.
In addition, there are still points to be awarded for the PGA of America Player of the Year with the five regular-season tournaments and four fall series events. At that point, the final tally will be made, and the PGA of America Player of the Year will be known. The PGA Tour balloting is done after the end of the season.
Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.