Continuing with this week’s “European players are more candid” theme, Lee Westwood has taken to Twitter to attack the PGA Tour’s decision to name Rickie Fowler its Rookie of the Year. He tweeted the following:
Sorry 140 letters is not going to be enough for this rant! Just seen Ricky [sic] Fowler has been given rookie of the year! Yes he’s had a good year but rory mcilroy 3rd in 2 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? Maybe the PGA tour just employs the same voting process as Fifa! Come on, fairs fair!
McIlroy himself has taken the rather pointed snub with good grace, but it’s difficult, and understandably so, for other observers to remain as impartial. The ROTY category has always allowed more experienced international players to waltz into contention and scoop the honour over and above worthy, genuinely inexperienced candidates. And tempting though it may now be to see that as an unforgivable blind-spot, it’s a rule that evolved specifically as a means of underlining the Tour’s claim to elite status and exclusivity. It was the Tour’s way of saying: ‘If you’re new to our circuit, it doesn’t matter where you were; you were playing at a lower level. You’re a rookie to us.’
Faced with the prospect of a ROTY who’d opt for life on a resurgent European Tour over and above the would-be showpiece of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, however, the Tour has opted instead to subvert the spirit of its own voting process (either directly or by proxy) and preemptively punish a player for future disloyalty.
Aside from the major ethical questions raised by all this, it’s safe to say that it’s a decision, like so many made in recent months, that places the Tour firmly on the wrong side of History. This isn’t just an isolated snub of Kramer vs. Kramer/Apocalypse Now proportions, it’s further evidence of the organisation’s inability to respond constructively (ie. without misplaced protectionism and vindictiveness) to the challenges a genuinely global golfing world.