Midseason awards: Dustin Johnson, Wes Bryan, Sergio Garcia shine on PGA Tour
Who is the most improved, rookie of the year and player of the year at the halfway mark?
The PGA Tour season is half over. How about that? There have been 23 events in the 2016-17 season, and there are 24 left. So technically the halfway point would be after the second round at this week's Valero Texas Open, but I'm going to call it good-good and hand out some awards right now.
It has been an immense year already, and we haven't even reached the deluge of The Players Championship, three majors and FedEx Cup Playoffs the second half of the season holds. A lot can (and will) change, but as of right now, here's who I have as your award winners after 23 events.
Player of the Year -- Dustin Johnson
Normally at this time of year the POY is essentially whoever won the Masters, but this season is a little different. Johnson has three wins including two WGCs and a big-boy track bagged at Riviera and the Genesis Open. Despite the gaffe at Augusta National where he had to bail after reaching the first tee, D.J. is clearly the POY at the midway point. And it might take a two-major season from someone to knock him off his perch.
Rookie of the Year -- Wesley Bryan
This is going to be an absolute war. An incredible three rookies have wins halfway through the season (Bryan, Cody Gribble and Mackenzie Hughes) and 10 overall are inside the FedEx Cup top 100. Bryan is the leader of the pack because he has the best win and the most top 10s (along with Ollie Schniederjans), but this race is far from over.
Most Improved -- Patrick Cantlay
Cantlay is an easy choice. Despite his status as a rookie, he has resurrected a once-promising career and made it whole again. He has two top 10s in just four starts and has not missed a cut. After years of suffering through a back injury and the recent death of his caddie, who Cantlay has mourned, his star is shining as brightly as it was when he was at UCLA and had the entire golf world in front of him.
Justin Thomas is also a candidate for this award with his three wins, but I think he was already playing pretty well before rocking the start of the 2016-17 season.
Vardon Trophy -- Rory McIlroy
The Vardon is not subjective but is rather whichever golfer has the lowest adjusted scoring average with a minimum of 60 rounds and no mid-round withdrawals from any tournaments. McIlroy currently sits at 68.87 trailed closely by Rickie Fowler at 68.99. The issue for McIlroy is probably going to be reaching the minimum for rounds (60) as he missed part of the first half of the season with a rib injury and has only played in four tournaments.
Biggest Surprise -- Jon Rahm
Rahm is not necessarily a true "surprise," but his rapid ascension has been staggering nonetheless. The Big Spaniard was ranked as the No. 1 amateur for longer than any golfer ever so the pedigree is there. But still, he won the Farmers Insurance Open and nearly took the WGC-Mexico Championship and WGC-Dell Match Play as well. He has gone from No. 137 in the world at the end of 2016 to No. 13 after the Masters. And he would be even higher if not for a minimum tournament requirement.
OK, I'm kidding.
The Masters was an all-timer.
Incredibly, we didn't even touch on Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler or Hideki Matsuyama, all of whom have wins on the season and are in the race for Player of the Year. Fowler and Spieth especially could usurp Johnson as POY with big second halves. Let's say Fowler goes and wins the British Open and a FedEx Cup playoff event and Johnson does nothing. All of a sudden the man in orange is your top dog on the PGA Tour.
So there is a long way to go when it comes to handing out the real awards, but thus far these are the golfers and the tournaments that have shined.
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