Men’s professional golf in 2022 was dominated by the back-and-forth battle between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf.
One of the most outspoken players, Rory McIlroy managed to put together a year to remember by claiming both the PGA Tour and DP World Tour’s season-long titles. Two rising stars in the game, Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Smith, each won their first major championship in 2022. Scheffler led the Tour in wins with four (all in an eight-week period) and set a record for prize money. Smith won the Tour’s flagship event, then took his talents to the LIV where he continued a successful five-win season worldwide.
So, of the three noteworthy season, who stood out the most?
Not only did Smith win his first major championship at the Home of Golf at the 150th Open at St. Andrews, he also won the Players Championship in miserable conditions and the Sentry Tournament of Champions by one shot over Jon Rahm. After joining LIV Golf, Smith finished T-4 in his first start and won the Boston event in his second start. He also claimed a third Australian PGA Championship.
So, despite all those wins in big events, why didn’t Smith win? It’s tough to determine how LIV events compare to Tour events due to the different format and field sizes, plus he wasn’t as consistent as the other two and also finished T-3 behind them both at the Masters.
McIlroy dealt with the added pressure that came with his public defense of the PGA Tour by winning the season-long FedEx Cup title thanks to three wins and nine top-10 finishes in 2022, including three top-fives in the four majors. He also managed to win the DP World Tour’s season-long title despite going winless on the European-based tour. He finished inside the top five in eight events and never finished lower than T-12.
While McIlroy, the current world No. 1, finished runner-up at the Masters, eighth at the PGA Championship, T-5 at the U.S. Open and third at the British Open, major wins should count for a bit more.
Scheffler’s coming out party lasted a couple months after he won all four of his PGA Tour titles over six starts from the WM Phoenix Open in February to the Masters in April. He won the Arnold Palmer Invitational and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in between and finished inside the top 25 in 16 of 20 starts in 2022, including a trio of runner-up finishes at the Charles Schwab Challenge, U.S. Open and Tour Championship.
The Texan rose to world No. 1 and held the title for 30 weeks from March 27-Oct. 22. His $14,046,910 in official prize money set a single season PGA Tour record and he totaled more than $24,796,910 in earnings including bonuses.