LIV Defector Cam Smith Nominated For PGA Tour Player Of The Year

The 29-year-old is in the running for the prestigious accolade despite his recent PGA Tour suspension

Cameron Smith takes a tee shot during the Boston leg of the LIV Golf Invitational Series
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The nominations for the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year have been revealed, with LIV Golf defector Cameron Smith in the running to replace 2021 winner Patrick Cantlay and claim the Jack Nicklaus Award. 

Smith had a stellar year on the PGA Tour with three victories, including The Players Championship and The Open. The Australian also finished in the top 10 seven times in his 18 appearances to finish the PGA Tour season as World No.2. 

Nevertheless, the 29-year-old's inclusion is contentious given his recent defection to LIV Golf and subsequent suspension from the PGA Tour. However, despite the Tour's hostility towards the Saudi-backed start-up, such a successful year clearly couldn't be ignored. 

Video: What Is LIV Golf?

The inclusion of McIlroy, on the other hand, is far less controversial. The 33-year-old is one of the PGA Tour's most vocal proponents and has been in excellent form to boot. The Northern Irishman posted top-10 finishes in each of the four Majors in 2022, and enjoyed three wins from his 16 events, most recently in the Tour Championship that earned him a record third FedEx Cup victory. McIlroy also briefly climbed back to World No.2 after June’s US Open. If he’s named Player of the Year, it’ll be his fourth time he's done so after also claiming the award in  2012, 2014 and 2019.

Scheffler, meanwhile, had four victories including his first Major win, The Masters at Augusta National.  The American also achieved 11 top-10 finishes from his 25 tournaments, where he made the cut in all but four to rise to World No.1 from World No.12 at the end of last year.

As well as the PGA Tour nominations, the three players nominated for Rookie of the Year have also been revealed, with South Korean Joohyung "Tom" Kim and American Sahith Theegala and Cameron Young in the running for the Arnold Palmer Award, as they look to succeed last year's winner, Will Zalatoris.

Kim's impact has perhaps been the most immediate. The 20-year-old played 11 PGA Tour events, securing three top-10 finishes. After earning his PGA Tour card following July’s Open at St Andrews, he also claimed his first PGA Tour win in the Wyndham Championship the following month. Meanwhile, Theegala achieved five top-10 finishes from his 32 events and finished 28th in the FedEx Cup. His best finish came with a tie for runner-up at the Travelers Championship. Lastly, Young had seven top-10 finishes from his 25 tournaments and finished 19th in the FedEx Cup. While the 25-year-old couldn’t claim his maiden PGA Tour win, he came runner-up five times, including in The Open.

Voting is open to any PGA Tour member who played in more than 15 official FedExCup events during the 2021-22 season. The voting closes at 5pm ET on Friday 9 September, with the winners of both awards to be announced on a yet-to-be-determined date.

Mike Hall
Freelance Staff Writer

Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.