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Rickie Fowler Wins Rookie of the Year; Lee Westwood Rants on Twitter

Dec 7, 2010 – 4:41 PM
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Mick Elliott

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Rickie Fowler did not win on the PGA Tour this year. He did have seven top 10 finishes.

Rory McIlroy had one victory, and five top 10s -- two of them, however, runner-up finishes in majors.

Fowler finished 32nd on the PGA Tour money list. McIlroy 36th. Both played in the Ryder Cup -- Fowler for the U.S. and Northern Ireland's McIlroy for Europe.

And on Saturday Fowler was named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.

You have a problem with that?

A number of people do. Among them world No. 1 Lee Westwood who went off on Twitter. We cleaned up the abbreviations to make it more readable, but even if not, Westwood's message was clear.

"Sorry 140 letters is not going to be enough for this rant!" he ranted. "Just seen Rickie Fowler has been given rookie of the year! Yes he's had a good year but Rory McIlroy third in two majors and an absolute demolition of the field at Quail Hollow! Oh yes and on the winning Ryder cup team! Please! Is this yet another case of protectionism by the PGA Tour or are they so desperate to win something! Wouldn't have something to do with Rory not joining the tour next year?"

"Just saw Rickie Fowler has been given rookie of the year! ... Is this yet another case of protectionism by the PGA Tour or are they so desperate to win something! Wouldn't have something to do with Rory (McIlroy) not joining the tour next year!"
-- Lee Westwood on Twitter
It might. The award was determined by a vote of PGA Tour players. McIlroy recently announced he would not play the American tour full time next year, giving up his membership.

If you want to accuse PGA Tour members for looking out for one of their own, go ahead. It's not a hard charge to make.

Still, consider this: Fowler came straight to the PGA Tour from Oklahoma State. McIlroy came to the PGA Tour after turning pro in 2007 and playing two years on the European Tour.

And then, there's one other fact: Life isn't always fair. Get used to it, kid.

CREDIT MCDOWELL FOR THIS ONE

Tiger Woods' greatest advantage over the competition has always been his head. He has forever been mentally tougher than the competition. He knew he was going to win, and opponents knew that he knew he was going to win. And he knew they knew.

Before being run down from behind Sunday by Graeme McDowell, Woods had 28 wins in 28 tournaments when he led by three or more shots after 54 holes. But McDowell came from four back and one in extra holes.

Is it another sign that Woods no longer is Woods? Or could McDowell just deserve the credit. He did, after all, win this year's U.S. Open and starred in Europe's Ryder Cup win.

"I've had an up and down career," McDowell said. "Plenty of ups and plenty of downs. I've always figured myself as a pretty fast learner. I've learned a lot from my down times, from my hard years. I've worked very hard the last three or four years and made some big decisions in my life, caddies and management and equipment companies.

"I feel like I earned my stripes a little bit, and I felt like a year like this one has been coming. Obviously the script this year has been pretty amazing. I didn't quite foresee it being this amazing. But I really felt like I had some big golf in me this year, and it's been amazing to be able to do it."

NOW, THAT HURTS

Golf injuries come in the strangest way. Jim Furyk once strained his back while brushing his teeth. Ernie Els has never been the same since injuring his knee tubing. Robert Allenby hurt his wrist early this year when he ran aground while boating.

Now add PGA Tour rookie Billy Horschel to the "He Got Hurt Doing What?" list.

Horschel, who played only four events in 2010 before missing the entire season following wrist surgery, believes he hurt himself ... sleeping.

"The doctor asked me if I hit a real bad shot that was fat, that could have done it," said the former Florida All-American. "Or did I hit out of thick rough or hit a root?

"I hadn't done any of that. When he told me how stuff happens with wrists, I had to tell him I think I slept on it wrong. I sleep with my arms up under my chest and I remember waking up one morning with my left wrist all folded up. It hurt. I think that started it then playing golf took care of the rest."

Horschel can sleep a little easier now, after advancing Monday from the final-stage of Q School in Winter Garden, Fla., to regain full exempt status for all of next season.

POINT/COUNTER-POINT

POINT:

Florida 15-year-old golf prodigy Lexi Thompson turned pro earlier this year and last week petitioned the LPGA to reconsider its age limits and allow her more than the limited six tournament appearance a year before turning 18.

COUNTER-POINT:

What's the rush? At least wait until having a driver's license and being able to use the courtesy car.

POINT:

Research by economics professor Timothy Derdenger reports that by sticking with scandal-plagued Tiger Woods, Nike's overall profit in golf ball sales this year was $1.6 million greater than it would have been without him.

COUNTER-POINT:

Rachael, Candy and Bambi also reported record profits.

POINT:

Talk during last week's LPGA season-ending event in Orlando, suggests the possibility of next year's schedule shrinking to a total of 24 events, only 10 of them in the United States.

COUNTER-POINT:

That's about the same percentage you find on the leader board.

MENTIONABLES

• Johnny Miller, a two-time USGA champion, will serve as the honorary chairman of the 2012 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, which will be played in July at Wasatch Mountain State Park in Midway, Utah.

• Good field for Greg Norman's Shark Shootout, the two-man team competition that begins Thursday in Naples, Fla.

Eight of the 24 players in the field are currently ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking -- Steve Stricker (6), Graeme McDowell (7), Ian Poulter (10), Matt Kuchar (13), Dustin Johnson (14), Rickie Fowler (26), Anthony Kim (28) and Bubba Watson (30).

SENIOR SUCCESS

Looks like the Champions Tour got it right with post-season awards.

Bernhard Langer was named 2010 Player of the Year, Fred Couples nabbed Rookie of the Year and Ken Green earned Comeback Player of the Year.

Langer posted five victories this year, including back-to-back major championships. He becomes the first player in Champions Tour history to win the Jack Nicklaus Trophy and the Arnold Palmer Award, as the Tour's leading money-winner, for a third consecutive year.

Couples had four victories and set records in three statistical categories on the way to winning more than $2 million in a season for the first time in his 30-year career.

Couples smashed three Champions Tour all-time records, all previously set by Hale Irwin in 1998 – the scoring average record in a season (68.59), with a 67.96, putting average (1.700), with 1.693 and birdie average (4.80) at 5.00.

Green's accomplishments, however, may have been the year's most inspiring. He returned to competition after losing his lower-right leg in an traffic accident during the summer of 2009 that killed his girlfriend, brother and dog.

He went through extensive rehabilitation and was fitted for a prosthetic limb before making his return, 10 months after the accident, at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, partnering Mike Reid to finish tied for 26th.
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