Peter Uihlein has been named the winner of the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award, European Tour officials have announced. Uihlein, 24, won the Madeira Islands Open and finished 14th in The Race to Dubai.
Uihlein – the son of Wally Uihlein, CEO of Acushnet, the parent company of Titleist and FootJoy – is the first American player to win rookie of the year honors, and follows in the footsteps of such standouts as Nick Faldo (1977), Sandy Lyle (1978), José María Olazábal (1986), Colin Montgomerie (1988), Sergio Garcia (1999), Ian Poulter (2000), Martin Kaymer (2007) and Matteo Manassero (2010).
''It's an honor to win the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award,'' said Uihlein, who was the world's top-ranked amateur in 2010. ''I wasn't expecting it, but it's been a great year and I'm very pleased. I think I'm the first non-European to win it, so that's a great honor. Any time you're the first of anything, it's neat.''
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Having turned professional in December 2011 after a glittering amateur career at Oklahoma State in which he won the 2010 U.S. Amateur, Uihlein secured a 2013 European Challenge Tour card and received several invitations into European Tour events. He earned top-10 finishes in the Tshwane Open and the Spanish Open early in the year.
His season-changing victory came in May, when he earned full European Tour playing rights. He then tied for 10th in both the BMW International Open and Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, and finished second at the ISPS Handa Wales Open. He came within a whisker of recording the first 59 in European Tour history at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship before losing to David Howell in a sudden-death playoff.
''We heartily congratulate Peter on an outstanding season, during which he has thrilled golf fans and challenged for several titles. He is a worthy winner of the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year,'' said European Tour Chief Executive George O'Grady. ''Peter enjoyed a wonderful career as an amateur and it is so pleasing to see him fulfilling his potential at the game's highest level. We wish him every success for the future.''
The European Tour contributed to this report.