While Jordan Spieth was an obvious choice for the PGA Tour Player of the Year Award, the other honor announced on Friday packed more suspense. Well, if you're passionate about Rookie of the Year winners.
Daniel Berger emerged victorious this year in what figured to be a close vote over Justin Thomas -- not that we'll ever know since the results from the players' ballots are kept more secret than Tiger Woods' operations. This drew reaction from the JT Fan Club.
But did Thomas get robbed? Actually, no.
Berger, despite falling off the planet for a three-month period when he couldn't break par and missed seven consecutive cuts, had a strong resume when he did make it to the weekend. Of his 17 made cuts (He had 14 MCs), Berger finished in the top 25 13 times. He also had six top 10s, including two runner-ups, the last of which came at the BMW Championship, which made him the only rookie to qualify for the Tour Championship.
Thomas had a much more consistent campaign, never missing more than two consecutive cuts and qualifying for the weekend in 23 of 30 events. He barely edged Berger in top 25s (15) and top 10s (7), but he didn't have one top-three finish, squandering several chances when he was in the hunt. As a result, he earned about $800,000 less than Berger for the season.
We'll give a slight edge to Berger over Thomas and Tony Finau, who quietly nearly matched JT's output. Not that there's any real outrage for Rookie of the Year. Is anyone still upset Rickie Fowler got the nod over Rory McIlroy in 2010? For the record, Thomas had no problem with Berger bringing home the hardware.
Oddly enough, neither was the season's only rookie winner. That honor went to Nick Taylor, who won the Sanderson Farms Championship last November, but only had one other top 25 (a T-24 at the Valspar Championship) during the season.
After a stellar collegiate career at the University of Alabama, Thomas, 22, entered the season as the biggest name among the rookies and the odd-on-favorite to win the award -- which is probably influencing those upset he didn't win. Of the rookie crop, he's still the one most feel will have the best career, but that's not what the award is for. So be patient, JT. They'll be plenty more hardware up for grabs in the future.