08/03/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 08/03/2020 08:42
NOTE: As of Aug. 2, there are 22 rookies and one rookie-eligible golfer who has qualified for STM but hasn't accepted on the PGA TOUR. This page provides a subjective ranking updated weekly. The Arnold Palmer Award winner is determined in a vote by PGA TOUR members who make at least 10 starts. The Ryder Cup, the Presidents Cup and the Olympic Games count as one of the 15.
Tom Lewis and Maverick McNealy came this close to making the Rookie of the Year race even more intriguing with two weeks remaining before the FedExCup Playoffs.
As front-runners Viktor Hovland (T59) and Scottie Scheffler (T15) were non-factors at the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, Lewis erupted for a third-round 61 at TPC Southwind to climb within striking distance of victory in the third and final WGC of the 2019-20 season. The Englishman closed with 66 to finish three strokes back of champion Justin Thomas and in a four-way share of second place.
Winning a TOUR event is tough enough, and winning as a rookie is special, but given the quality of the field, Lewis was angling strong at joining an exclusive club consisting of other true rookies who have won big events. In recent memory, it includes Xander Schauffele at the 2017 TOUR Championship and Keegan Bradley at the 2011 PGA Championship. (Charl Schwartzel also was a rookie when he prevailed at the 2011 Masters, but if consideration would have been made at the time for the current definition of a rookie adopted during the 2013 season, he wouldn't have been designated as such.)
Later on Sunday, Maverick McNealy was lurking at the Barracuda Championship, but he'd settle for sole possession of seventh place and five points adrift of first-time champion, Richy Werenski, in the Modified Stableford scoring format. McNealy's third top 10, sixth top 20 and fourth low-rookie performance is enough to slide him up a spot in the latest Rookie Ranking.
It's also that time of the season when non-members make noise. Despite considerable time missed due to the pandemic, this one is no different.
First, with his T20 at the WGC-St. Jude, Erik van Rooyen has collected the equivalent of enough FedExCup points to qualify for Special Temporary Membership (288.035). With 305.429 non-member points, he'd slot 106th among members. Since he's all but a lock to retain position inside the top 125, he's been added to the table below. Note the new marker (&) and explanation for his situation.
EVR's addition translates into four low-rookie efforts, including a T3 at the WGC-Mexico Championship where Scheffler previously had been the only rookie in play. Because Scheffler finished T26 at Club de Golf Chapultepec, he drops to eight low-rookie performances, still the most in his class. Hovland ranks second with six.
Will Gordon finished T41 at the Barracuda, but because it was the 10th start for the Special Temporary Member, he now officially is a rookie. Should van Rooyen accept STM, the South African also would be a rookie simultaneously because he's made 10 starts. Practically speaking, there's no benefit if van Rooyen accepts this late in the season because should he have interest in competing at the Wyndham Championship - the only remaining tournament for which he'd need a sponsor exemption - he didn't exhaust all seven allotted to him, anyway.
Matthias Schwab sat atop the leaderboard for a time on Sunday at the Barracuda, but he slipped into a two-way T3. With the equivalent of 245.984 FedExCup points, Gordon's former teammate at Vanderbilt would rank 129th among members in just five starts.
Lastly, Christiaan Bezuidenhout placed T20 at TPC Southwind. In eight starts, he's totaled 232.896 non-member FedExCup points, good for 134th among members. Both Schwab and Bezuidenhout are committed to this week's PGA Championship.
LOW ROOKIE -- WGC-St. Jude: Tom Lewis, T2. First time.
LOW ROOKIE -- Barracuda: Maverick McNealy, 7th. Fourth time (previous: T5=Pebble Beach; T11=Honda; T8=Rocket Mortgage).
CAREER-BEST FINISHES (AND TIES) -- WGC-St. Jude: Tom Lewis (T2).
CAREER-BEST FINISHES (AND TIES) -- Barracuda: None.
* - In the field at the PGA Championship as of Aug. 2.
# - Top-10 alternate at the PGA Championship as of Aug. 2.
+ - In the field at the Korn Ferry Tour's Winco Foods Portland Open presented by KraftHeinz as of Aug. 2.
^ - Will Gordon has Special Temporary Membership but is ineligible for the FedExCup Playoffs unless he wins a tournament. The value in parentheses in the FedExCup Rank column reflects where he would rank among members.
& - Erik van Rooyen qualified for Special Temporary Membership at the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. His acceptance is pending. Even if he accepts, he is ineligible for the FedExCup Playoffs unless he wins a tournament. If he declines, he will qualify as a rookie when he finishes inside the top 125 of the FedExCup with his non-member equivalent of points. The value in parentheses in the FedExCup Rank column reflects where he would rank among members.