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Joint award is just reward

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Iain Carter | 11:30 UK time, Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The European Tour's prestigious Golfer of the Year title is to be shared for the first time, with the award going jointly to US Open champion Graeme McDowell and PGA winner Martin Kaymer.

Golf does not like fudges but on this occasion the panel of judges made up of representatives of all sections of the golfing media could not separate the two Ryder Cup men, who both claimed debut major crowns in 2010.

Kaymer's US PGA success at Whistling Straits was one of four Tour titles that helped the German win the season-long Race to Dubai.

McDowell claimed three victories and also held his nerve brilliantly to steer Europe home to a single-point win in October's Ryder Cup.

McDowell won the US Open in June by one shot from Gregory HavretMcDowell won the US Open in June by one shot from Gregory Havret. Photo: Getty Images

The decision to make it a joint award had been taken before McDowell claimed victory at the 18-man Chevron Challenge in California at the weekend. The Northern Ireland man overhauled a four-shot deficit to beat Tiger Woods at the first hole of a play-off.

Some may say this unprecedented move is a cop out. The sport doesn't often do draws and plenty still mutter about the controversial decision to allow Bernhard Langer and Colin Montgomerie to share the Volvo Masters title when darkness fell after two extra holes of a sudden-death play-off in 2002.

To make it possible for two players, even great Ryder Cup allies like Montgomerie and Langer, to share a prestigious title was always going to be contentious. "I don't think we'd want to let that happen again," one leading Tour referee told me only last week.

But the circumstances surrounding the 2010 Golfer of the Year award are somewhat different. McDowell and Kaymer emerged from a shortlist that also included world number one Lee Westwood and Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.

Ultimately, ankle injuries robbed both Westwood and Oosthuizen of the chance to press their claims even further, while the weight of victories enjoyed by the joint recipients set them apart.

But separating Kaymer and McDowell is difficult given their achievements in 2010.

Statistically, Kaymer edged McDowell in almost every category - more tournaments won, more prize money earned and higher world ranking. He also finished number one in the Race to Dubai.

But what about the cache McDowell gained by becoming the first European to win a US Open for 40 years and the extraordinary role he played in winning the Ryder Cup?

Both players scored 2.5 points at Celtic Manor, although Kaymer rarely showed his best form over the four days in Wales. McDowell nursed Rory McIlroy through his debut and held off Hunter Mahan in the final singles to give Europe victory.

McDowell's birdie at the 16th that put him two up with two to play in that match will go down as one of the greatest threes ever achieved in a Ryder Cup. He was the outstanding hero among heroes in Montgomerie's team. How do you quantify the value of McDowell's contribution in Wales?

Just three hundredths of a stroke separated them in the season-long stroke average, with Kaymer recording 70.04 to McDowell's 70.07, while McDowell edged the putts in GIR stat, 1.756 to 1.755.

Kaymer won the US PGA in controversial fashionKaymer won the US PGA in controversial fashion. Photo: Getty Images

These figures illustrate perfectly why it is so hard to favour one over the other.

Furthermore, both McDowell and Kaymer are supreme ambassadors for their sport. McDowell is as eloquent, honest and entertaining as they come, while the 25-year-old Kaymer performs his media duties with a maturity and elan beyond his years in both German and English.

"Graeme and I pretty much had the same level of success this season in terms of the majors and on the European Tour," Kaymer acknowledged. "He deserves this recognition as much as I do.

"His winning match in the Ryder Cup was huge for all of Europe and for both of us now to make history in terms of sharing this award represents a very proud moment for both our families and shows how strong European golf is right now."

Kaymer also gave the Tour a huge boost by announcing that he sees no reason to take up PGA Tour membership in 2011. McDowell is looking to play both tours next year but has already hinted he will make Europe his base in 2012 because it is a Ryder Cup year.

Reacting to the joint decision, the 31-year-old from Portrush said: "It is an honour to share this award with a player of Martin's calibre. He is one of the best players of our generation and I am sure will enjoy many more successes in the years to come."

This has been a stellar season for the European Tour. It provided the winners of three of the four majors as well as the man who succeeded Tiger Woods as world number one.

The unprecedented decision to make a shared award helps reflect the extraordinary nature of this amazing golfing year. It is not a fudge or a cop out, rather the right way to reflect what has happened on the European Tour in 2010.

The Players' Player accolade has still to be decided, the result of which will not be known for some time. The voting from an electorate comprising the Tour's golfers will be as fascinating as it will be difficult to predict.


  • Comment number 1.

    I agree - Totally correct decision to share this award.

    Shame the USPGA didn't do the same thing for Rookie of the Year with Fowler and McIlroy.

  • Comment number 2.

    Right decision as the arguments in favour of Kaymer & McDowell are both so strong. Amazing to think that these guys are quite rightly picked ahead of the top ranked player in the world!! European golf is extremely strong right now and I back Kaymer, McDowell, Westwood & Poulter to continue to challenge Tiger for world number one and (more importantly) Major Championships. Roll on Augusta!!

  • Comment number 3.

    mcdowell is a better player,to beat woods,mickelson and els to win the us open the 2nd most prestigeous tourament in golf at the iconic pebble beach,kaymer was useless in wales,
    mcdowell completes the 2nd most remarkable comeback ever (yang at the uspga in 2009 against woods the clear cut best) in california ,woods' back yard
    come on poulter and westy win a major
    good luck lads

  • Comment number 4.

    Good call to share it. Although Kaymer deserves it in the technical sense you can't ignore gmac's contribution this year.

    The last hour of the Chevron with gmav vs woods was just awesome...its was like being back at the Ryder cup on the last day. It just highlighted that gmac's impact has been greater than kaymer's quieter, but still well deserved, approach to golfer of the year.

    Gmac for sports personality of the year!!!!

  • Comment number 5.

    Kaymer should have been a clear winner - won more official events, won his next event after the PGA, and after the Ryder Cup, and won the race to dubai, and higher in the world rankings. He will go on to win many more tournaments and majors. McDowell has a fundamentally dodgy swing, hits it left under pressure (17th on sunday), and will be a one major wonder like a few others. Up the Germans!

  • Comment number 6.

    Kaymer was nowhere to be seen when the questions were asked during the Ryder Cup. He was fortunate to be paired with very good matchplay partners before being taken apart in the singles. There is no pressure like the Ryder Cup and making that 3 on the 16th alone should be enough for Gmac to take this award. Roll this up with his other wins and come backs this year and his personality (which Kaymer is so devoid of) and he should walk every golf award of this year along with BBC SPOTY.

    I cannot remember a better golfing season and can only hope that the success in Europe is built upon in the coming years, it's so exciting.

  • Comment number 7.


    I fear another error from a BBC sport article on golf. You say

    "while McDowell edged the Greens in Regulation stat, 1.756 to 1.755"

    Now those numbers are either putts per GIR or average putts per hole. They are not GIR. If either of them had GIR stats of less than 2% they would be in big trouble.

  • Comment number 8.

    Good decision to share, however i feel Gmac deserves it more, kaymer did win the pga and a win is a win and theyll be more tocome surely, but he was handed it on a plate.

    Gmac WON the Us Open a bigger, better tournament that no europeans won for 40years, and obviously that putt at the ryder was a sporting moment of the year.

    capps of an outstanding year that i hope he continues his form into next year, i still cant believe hes not fav for SPOTY!!

    Westwood for the Masters, or Mclroy if he sorts his putting out.

    VOTE GMac for SPOTY people,

    he would be more than deserving as theres only been 2other winners in Dai Ryes and another..

  • Comment number 9.

    For once an honorable draw.

    If the decision had been made after Sunday McDowell would probably just have edged it.

    What is more controversial is Furyk winning player of the year on the US PGA Tour. The only thing he won was the Playoffs. What about Micklesons Masters victory? I can think of 3 more I would give it to over Furyk. Shocking decision.

  • Comment number 10.

    A bit of a pointless award every year in my opinion.
    Who cares?..................

  • Comment number 11.

    Sorry but 'Greatest Comeback In Golf?' obviously not aware of Gary Player's World Matchplay or Faldo vs Norman in the Masters (or Ben Hogan coming back from his car crash)

  • Comment number 12.

    Good decision. Both are great ambassadors for EU golf and showed huge nerve and achieved great things this year - above that achieved by many other previous winners and even world #1 Westwood. And great to see we had 2 such heroes in Europe - whereas in the US they had no such heroes to pick from and had to fudge it with Furyk. I'm looking forward to next year and seeing a few more likely EU heroes taking the next step to a major - like Westwood, Poulter, McIlroy, Donald, Casey, Karlsson, Fisher plus continued improvement from the likes of Garcia, Jimenez, Harrington and younger players like Manassero, Quiros...... Hopefully zero majors to Americans next year. And the next. And the next.

  • Comment number 13.

    Being pedantic, but following up on comment #7, McDowell edged putts in GIR 1.755 to 1.756, not the other way round.

    Kind of like the idea of sharing an award like this, if only occasionally.

    #1, sort of agree, but McIlroy should have won the Rookie award. Americans don't like ties much!

  • Comment number 14.

    Hey Iain, Didn't McDowell have 4 wins this year? 3 wins on the European Tour and his 1 PGA Tour win. This year Graeme won The Wales open, The US open, The Andalucia Valderrama Masters and The Chevron World Challenge. Don't short change the guy ;)

  • Comment number 15.

    #14 His Chevron victory didn't count on the PGA or European Tours and was achieved after the award decision had been taken.

    Apologies to all for the errors re putts in GIR stat!

  • Comment number 16.

    Whitteg wrote [5]:

    "Up the Germans!"


    Ooh, don't say that! I've heard they don't like it up them.

  • Comment number 17.

    As I said on your previous article Iain, the only winner for me is Kaymer. I think it's a pointless award anyway.

    "Congratulations on winning the Race to Dubai, Martin, and being the number 1 European Tour golfer and therefore golfer of the year......oh no wait, no it seems you're not golfer of the year afterall".

    Your comment 'cop out' is about right, and you are right when you say Kaymer edged McDowell in every category. McDowell had a great year, but Kaymer's was better.

    You should have mentioned Kaymer had a serious injury too.

  • Comment number 18.

    For once, I agree with a joint decision, but I would have made it a 3 way tie with Lee Westwood joining them!

  • Comment number 19.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 20.

    Kaymer and Mcdowell both had amazing years - its a good thing to recognise them both for this. Even if we have our preferences whether based on personality or what we think is a better achievement it's great to congratulate them both together. Every pro tournament has one winner and then the rest - why not create two winners with this award particularly as they both made spectacular achievements this year?


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