At the PGA Tour Champions Annual Awards Dinner – which was held at the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai on Tuesday – our own Pádraig Harrington was named 2022 Rookie of the Year.
Harrington’s rookie campaign saw him win four times, including a senior major. Those victories were the U.S. Senior Open Championship, the DICK’S Sporting Goods Open, the Ascension Charity Classic and the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) January 18, 2023
Harrington notched 13 top-10 finishes in 19 starts and ended the year ranked second in scoring average (68.33), second on the money list ($3,293,255) and second in the Charles Schwab Cup standings – behind only Alker in all three categories. Harrington’s $3,293,255 stand as the third-most earned in a season in PGA TOUR Champions history, while his 68.33 scoring average ranks as the sixth-lowest in a single season in PGA TOUR Champions history.
“It’s really nice to be a rookie again,” said Harrington. “I have to thank everybody on the Champions Tour for giving me the opportunity to be out there hitting shots and remembering the past.
“Every time you hit a good shot or get an applause from the crowds, it kind of reminds you of the good days – the tournaments you’ve won in the past. To handle the pressure now, it’s very much reminiscing. It’s reliving ‘glory days.’
“I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I didn’t realise how much I would get out of the Champions Tour – being good again, enjoying winning and being a star in some ways. I never won the Rookie of the Year on the European Tour or on the PGA TOUR. This is actually my first ever Rookie of the Year, but I am thankful to the Champions Tour and my peers, my fellow players. Thank you to you all. I’ll see you all out on Tour.”
While Harrington turned 50 on August 31, 2021, he only played in two PGA TOUR Champions events during the 2020-21 season, retaining his rookie eligibility for 2022. Harrington earned Rookie of the Year honours over Brian Gay and Y.E. Yang.
Meanwhile, following a season in which he won four times and had 18 top-10 finishes in 23 starts, Steven Alker was named the recipient of the 2022 Jack Nicklaus Award as the PGA TOUR Champions Player of the Year. He also received the Arnold Palmer Award, given annually to the Tour’s money leader ($3,544,425 – second most in a single season in PGA TOUR Champions history) and the Byron Nelson Award, given annually to the player with the best scoring average on the Champions Tour (68.27 – fourth lowest in a single season in PGA TOUR Champions history).
“I am very honoured to be voted by my fellow peers as the 2022 PGA TOUR Champions Player of the Year and to be in the company of past award winners,” said Alker. “I have been inspired by being in the presence of so many amazing players and human beings since joining PGA TOUR Champions and for that, I am very grateful. I would also like to say thank you to my family, friends and fans who have helped make this possible.”
Alker won his first career Charles Schwab Cup in 2022, after sitting atop the Charles Schwab Cup standings for the final 21 weeks of the season. Alker’s run of more than 20 weeks atop the Charles Schwab Cup standings makes him only the fourth player to hold the top of the standings for 20-or-more weeks (also: Bernhard Langer, 2014, 2016, 2020-21; Tom Lehman, 2011; Scott McCarron, 2019).
Alker won the money title with $3,544,425, the second-most ever totalled in a PGA TOUR Champions season, trailing only Bernhard Langer in 2017 ($3,677,359). Prior to joining PGA TOUR Champions, Alker had $2,318,866 in combined career earnings between Korn Ferry Tour and PGA TOUR. Alker began his career on Champions Tour by Monday qualifying into the 2021 Boeing Classic. Since that time, he has earned more than $4.5 million as a member of PGA TOUR Champions.
The 2022 season saw Alker win four times, including his first career senior major. His four victories came at the Rapiscan Systems Classic, the Insperity Invitational, the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship and the Dominion Energy Charity Classic. Alker’s four wins tied for the most by any player on PGA TOUR Champions this season, along with Harrington and Steve Stricker.
Alker won the player vote over four other Player of the Year candidates: Harrington; Jerry Kelly, who won three times in 2022 and finished third in the Charles Schwab Cup standings; Miguel Angel Jimenez, who won three times and finished fifth in the Charles Schwab Cup standings; and Stricker, who posted four wins and finished fourth in the Charles Schwab Cup standings.