If it’s Tuesday, it must mean Rory McIlroy added yet another award to his trophy case. Indeed, the two-time major champion from Northern Ireland picked up the European Tour’s Golfer of the Year honors on the same day that the World Golf Hall of Fame announced that major-less but decorated Ryder Cup veteran Colin Montgomerie would enter its hallowed halls as a 2013 inductee.
McIlroy was the unanimous choice of golf writers and commentators for the accolade, having achieved just about every milestone there is to garner in a season. On his way to succeeding Luke Donald as the Euro Tour’s top player, the 23-year-old earned his second major with a record-breaking eight-stroke romp at the PGA Championship, won three other PGA Tour events, helped his Ryder Cup team stun the Americans at Medinah, rang up the money titles on both sides of the Atlantic, picked up the U.S. tour’s Player of the Year prize, won the Race to Dubai season-ending World Tour Championship, and cemented his position atop the world golf rankings.
Whew! No wonder Tiger Woods’ heir apparent needed a break -- if not from the rigors of competition, then from raking in relics all over the globe.
“Everyone who knows me knows how special the 2012 season was,” said McIlroy, the youngest player to win the citation since the European Tour began handing them out in 1985. “A couple of wins, including a major, and consistent performances in big events all helped me win the Race to Dubai for the first time. To win that was a massive highlight of an amazing season, and I hope it will be the first of many. Now, to have been named as The European Tour Golfer of the Year puts the icing on the cake."
Picking McIlroy was a no-brainer, said Bill Elliott, Golf Monthly contributor and chair of the Association of Golf Writers.
“At times, selecting the winner of such a prestigious award such as this can be difficult, as was the case in 2010 when Graeme [McDowell] and Martin [Kaymer] shared the accolade. But this year, our decision was straightforward,” Elliott said. “Rory’s performances on the golf course were spectacular but not only that, it was also the way he conducted himself on and off the golf course -- with ourselves in the media and everyone else connected with this great old game -- that made him a thoroughly deserved winner.”
Montgomerie’s selection was just a tad more arduous, given the 49-year-old Scot’s sometimes prickly disposition, the fact that he never won a major, and the 51 percent of the vote with which he eked out his admittance.
Monty won 31 times on the European Tour, but it was, no doubt, his stellar Ryder Cup record that put him over the top. He was unbeaten in singles (6-0-2) matches in eight straight starts from 1991 and snatched the cup back from the U.S. as captain of the European squad in 2010.
“It is a wonderful surprise to hear that I will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame next year,” remarked Montgomerie, who was Europe’s top player for seven straight years from 1993. “I know I am very fortunate to have enjoyed such a successful career playing the game I love and it makes me feel very proud that my achievements have been recognized in this way.”
Montgomerie will join Fred Couples, Willie Park Jr., Ken Venturi, and former European Tour executive director Ken Schofield for induction ceremonies on May 6, 2013.