Player of the Year Race hotter than ever
August 28, 2019
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Four players are in contention for the 2019 Player of the Year. (PGA TOUR)
With just one full-field event left in the 2019 Mackenzie Tour season prior to the season-ending Canada Life Championship, the race for Player of the Year, given to the player leading the Order of Merit at year’s end, is the closest it’s been in recent memory.
For the first time in Mackenzie Tour history, three golfers have now earned more than $100,000 in a season and multiple players have two wins. On top of that, there is a Canadian in the mix and the race to top spot on the order of merit hasn’t been this tight, this late in the season, since the first season in the PGA TOUR-era.
In years’ past, the Player of the Year race has been essentially a forgone conclusion by the time the top-60 in the order of merit teed it up in London, Ont. for the season finale.
In 2014, Joel Dahmen won two of the first three events and ended up on top of the order of merit by more than $20,000.
In 2015, J.J. Spaun held off a hard-charging C.T. Pan (who won twice) to win the order of merit title by more than $10,000 and take Player of the Year honours.
In 2016, Dan McCarthy dominated. His four wins still stand as a record, and he nearly doubled second-place Brock Mackenzie on the final order of merit standings.
In 2017, Kramer Hickok rode two wins to Player of the Year honours, and topped the order of merit by more than $30,000.
And finally, in 2018, Tyler McCumber won three times to cruise to Player of the Year honours. It was, however, the first time that more than two golfers finished with more than $100,000 in earnings for a calendar year as George Cunningham also topped the century mark.
Each of the aforementioned Players of the Year had their awards long before the final putt of the season dropped.
Not so, this year.
Here are the contenders for the 2019 Player of the Year honour. With two events left, it’s still anyone’s trophy.
There has been only one blip on Barjon’s otherwise spectacular season. He has, save for his week at the 1932byBateman Open when he finished T51, been a model of consistency in 2019.
Barjon has two victories (Bayview Place DCBank Open presented by Times Colonist, Osprey Valley Open presented by Votorantim Cimentos CBM Aggregates) and eight top-10 finishes in the 10 events he’s played so far.
With more than $123,000 in earnings on the year, he leads the money list.
Knapp got off to a seriously quick start in 2019 and has been able to keep that momentum going as the summer has moved along.
He won two of the first three events of the season (the Canada Life Open and the GolfBC Championship) and added a third-place finish (Osprey Valley Open) and a runner-up (HFX Pro-Am presented by Steele Jaguar) for good measure.
Knapp is only $5,000 behind Barjon on the Order of Merit.
It just seemed inevitable that Chan was going to win this season, and he finally broke through at the HFX Pro-Am presented by Steele Jaguar.
And then he nearly did it again the very next week.
Chan, who started the season with four-straight top-10’s, then went on a run of 1-2-3 (the runner-up came at the 1932byBateman Open and the third-place finish was at the ATB Financial Classic).
Although he’s won just once – unlike Knapp and Barjon – out of the 10 events Chan has played this year he’s finished in the top-25 in nine of them, and in the top-10 in seven of them.
He’s less than $20,000 behind Barjon for top spot on the Order of Merit, but leads the Mackenzie Tour in Scoring Average and is second in Total Birdies (just three birdies behind Barjon).
A bit on the outside-looking-in, but the Canadian has had a solid enough season to warrant Player of the Year discussion.
Pendrith, who was part of The Five in 2015, has battled back from a myriad of injuries the last few seasons to play some of the best golf of his career this season.
Having earned just over $84,000 this season he’s well back of Barjon’s Order of Merit lead, however, there’s still a chance to move up the list.
Pendrith became the first Canadian to win on the Mackenzie Tour since 2016 after his win at the 1932byBateman Open. That victory came during a stretch of golf that saw him finish 2-T3-1-T5.
He has very nearly secured himself a spot in The Five and some more solid finishes could see Pendrith become the first homegrown Player of the Year since fellow Kent State alum Mackenzie Hughes in 2013.