Luke Donald, Yani Tseng and Tom Lehman have been named 2011 Players of the Year by the Golf Writers Association of America, the association announced on Thursday.
It is the first GWAA Player of the Year award for Donald and the second for both Tseng and Lehman. They will be honored at the GWAA’s Annual Awards Dinner April 4, 2012 in Augusta, Ga.
All three players were runaway winners in the GWAA balloting. Donald received 88 percent of the votes (180 votes) for Male Player of the Year to nine percent (19) for Keegan Bradley. Webb Simpson was third (3) followed by Rory McIlroy (2).
Tseng received 95 percent of the vote for Female Player of the Year (194) to two percent for Stacy Lewis (5). Suzann Pettersen (2) and Lexi Thompson (1) also received votes. In the Senior race, Lehman grabbed 86 percent of the vote (177) to eight percent (16) for John Cook. Mark Calcavecchia (10) was third.
Donald won four times worldwide, took over the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Rankings and became the first player to win the money title on both the PGA Tour and European Tour. He also won the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average. His wins included the BMW PGA Championship and WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and he had an amazing 14 top-10s in 19 tournaments.
Donald came from behind with a closing 64 to win at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic to win the PGA Tour money list and finished third at the Dubai World Championship to win the European money list. Donald, who lost his father in November, also won the Golf Writers Trophy (a vote of the Association of Golf Writers in Europe) and European Tour Player of the Year honors. It’s the third time in four years a European-born player has won the GWAA award.
Tseng dominated women’s golf with a dozen wins, including two more majors – the LPGA Championship and the Women’s British Open – to win her second consecutive GWAA Player of the Year award. Tseng became the youngest player to win five majors, led the LPGA in scoring and money and won the Rolex Player of the Year award. She had 14 top 10s and won almost double the amount of money ($2.921 million) as second-place Cristie Kerr ($1.47 million)
Lehman won three times in 2011, including his second Champions Tour major, the Regions Tradition, in a playoff over Peter Senior. He had 12 top-10 finishes to lead the Champions money list and win the Charles Schwab Cup and Champions Tour Player of the Year honors. Lehman, who won the GWAA’s Male Player of the Year award in 1996, became the first player to win Player of the Year honors on the Nationwide, PGA and Champions Tours.
The GWAA, founded in 1946, takes an active role in protecting the interests of all golf journalists, works closely with all of golf’s major governing bodies and the World Golf Hall of Fame.