News & Opinion

Tour touts its clarity amid opaque voting

Rory McIlroy’s winning the PGA Tour Player of the Year Award

In my commentary last week about Rory McIlroy’s winning the PGA Tour Player of the Year Award, I didn’t do my usual due diligence and contact the PGA Tour to confirm its voting procedure.

In discussions with the PGA Tour after Friday’s commentary in Morning Read (“Even Putin wouldn’t OK Tour’s secret vote,” Sept. 13), I learned some interesting information:

Rory McIlroy’s, PGA Tour Player of the Year Award
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (left), who held off Brooks Koepka (right) in the Tour Championship to win the FedEx Cup, also clipped the American in the player-of-the-year balloting among their peers.

1. The 16-man Player Advisory Council and two player directors submit nominations for the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year ballot.

2. The PGA Tour compiles the ballot, providing the same five statistical categories for the nominees, who are listed alphabetically.

3. The PGA Tour sends the ballot to Grant Thornton, an accounting and advisory company, plus the eligible voters, who numbered 196 this year.

4. The PGA Tour emails the ballot to eligible voters via a password-protected link. Players can log in, click the link and cast their votes.

5. The votes go directly to Grant Thornton, not to the Tour. The Tour does not have direct knowledge of who voted for whom, only which players voted. Historically, the participation rate among the players eligible to vote has ranged from 45 percent to 60 percent.

In supplying this information, Tour spokeswoman Laura Neal said, “Feel free to debate whether the PGA Tour membership should have voted Rory or Brooks [Koepka] as Player of the Year. What’s not up for debate is the Tour’s integrity – in this process or otherwise.”

In my commentary, I didn’t suggest that the PGA Tour had manipulated the result of the POY voting, nor did I question the Tour’s integrity, but I did challenge the Tour’s process.

The voting process seems to be inconsistent with inherent fairness, or more specifically the need for transparency.

The fact that so many golf observers are questioning how McIlroy could defeat Koepka for POY lends itself to scrutiny and supports my contention that the process is flawed.

Peeling back the curtain on how the Tour conducts the vote and shining some little light into the proceedings is a good idea. It would provide clarity for golf fans and offer interesting fodder for discussion. As we proceed into a new era of sports gambling that will include professional golf, transparency will be imperative.

The Tour can’t control everything, but in this limited circumstance, providing the POY voting data is a necessary part of the process.

As helpful as the PGA Tour has been to clear up questions about its voting, the main concerns still linger and the process regarding the results remains unacceptable.

Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read. Email: alex@morningread.com; Twitter: @AlexMiceli