The PGA Tour has just released the finalists for the 2013 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. The group consists of four young quality players. They are David Lingmerth, Derek Ernst, Russell Henley and Jordan Spieth. The vote is determined by a member vote of players that were active in 12 official money events in 2013. It’s time to break down each player’s rookie season to pick a winner.
David Lingmerth- The Swedish import to Jacksonville, Florida began his rookie season playing the Sony Open in Hawaii and finished tied for 31st. He played in a total of 23 events in his rookie campaign and made 11 cuts while missing 11 and withdrawing from The Barclays. Of those events he finished in the top-25 six times, the top-10 three times and had two runner-up finishes at the Humana Challenge in his second career event and The Players Championship. He did qualify for the FedExCup Playoffs which is feat unto itself in a rookie season. Lingmerth came up short while chasing Tiger Woods at The Players Championship needing a birdie on the 72nd hole to force a playoff. He did not appear near that top in any of the PGA Tours traditional performance statistics but was solid. He finished 46th on the PGA Tour money list. Overall it was a very nice rookie season.
Derek Ernst- The California native now residing in Las Vegas, Nevada had a boom or bust rookie season. Ernst entered 21 events in 2013 and made seven cuts while missing 14 of them. Of those seven he had one top-25, one top-10 and his first career victory at the Wells Fargo Championship. However the top-25, top-10 and win are all thanks to the same magical week. However, he tired down the stretch missing the cut in eight of his last 10 official events but still made the FedExCup Playoffs due to the points earned in his victory. He finished 66th on the PGA Tour money list in 2013 and got his first tour win out of the way early in his career.
Russell Henley- The Georgia native now residing in Daniel Island South Carolina had a solid beginning to what should be a very nice PGA Tour career. He played in 24 events in 2013 and made 17 cuts only missing the weekend seven times. Of those 17 he finished in the top-25 five times, the top-10 three times and captured his first PGA Tour win in his first start at the Sony Open in Hawaii. He also managed top-10 finishes at the RBC Heritage (T6) and the Memorial Tournament (T6). Henley is another example of a rookie shows signs of wear and tear down the stretch with no top-25s in his final 10 starts with his best being a tie for 27th at the FedEx St. Jude Classic and the Bridgestone Invitational. Henley was ninth on tour in strokes gained putting and third in total putting so he can absolutely putt. He made it through three legs of the FedExCup Playoffs but his struggles caught up with him. He finished 2013 ranked 33rd on the money list and banked his first win check. Russell Henley had a nice start to a career.
Who Should Win
Jordan Spieth- This should be an absolute rock sold no brainer decision for the voters. The 2013 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year should be Jordan Spieth. I do not think Jordan even understood he was a rookie. The 20 year old Dallas, Texas resident had a phenomenal rookie season. Jordan began his 2013 season without carrying a fully exempt status but by the end of the season he had that and much more. In his rookie campaign he played in 23 events making 18 cuts and missing only five. Of those 18 made cuts he finished in the top-25 13 times, the top-10 nine times and finished runner-up in three events. The three runner-up finishes were at Puerto Rico Open, the Wyndham Championship and the season ending TOUR Championship. Spieth also captured his first title at the John Deere Classic. He holed a bunker shot on the 72nd hole to force the playoff that he eventually won.
While some of the other rookies on the contenders list slowed during the final few events of the PGA Tour grind, Jordan finished off his rookie season in incredible fashion. He qualified for the FedExCup Playoffs and through his last five events finished no worse than a tie for 19th including his second place finish at the Wyndham Championship, tie for fourth at the Deutsche Bank Championship and tied for second at the season ending TOUR Championship firing a final round 64!
According to PGA Tour performance statistics, Jordan finished in the top-10 in multiple categories that matter including but not limited to scoring average (ninth), total driving (eighth), all-around (third), par four performance (fifth) and final round scoring (fourth). He qualified and played in all four playoff events and finished 2013 at 10th on the PGA Tour money list with earnings north of $3.8 million. He is also a captains choice for the President’s Cup in a couple of weeks. At 20 years old he has only scratched the surface of what he can become. Not only does Jordan Spieth deserve to win the 2013 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year but you can expect to see him in the final cut for Player of the Year for years to come. Congrats Jordan on one incredible rookie campaign.