Bernhard Langer (Photo: Getty Images/Ryan Young)

Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how old Bernhard Langer is. Midway through the 2017 PGA TOUR Champions season, Langer, a World Golf Hall of Fame member, turned 60. Twenty-eight days after his birthday, he won the PURE Insurance Championship. The following month, he won again, at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, and the next week he won again, this time taking the PowerShares QQQ Championship. It was that kind of excellence that allowed Langer to earn the 2017 Jack Nicklaus Award, given annually to the Player of the Year. Langer and Jerry Kelly, the 2017 Rookie of the Year, received their awards recently at the PGA TOUR Champions Annual Awards Dinner at the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai in Hawaii.

After capturing three major victories and seven wins total, Langer picked up the Tour’s Player of the Year honor for the seventh time in his career and fourth year in a row. He also won the Arnold Palmer Award (leading money winner) for the sixth consecutive year and ninth time overall, and the Byron Nelson Award (lowest scoring average) for the fourth consecutive year and sixth time overall.

“I’m very blessed and proud of how I played in 2017, and I’m humbled that my peers voted for me as Player of the Year,” said Langer, who won the player vote over fellow nominees Kevin Sutherland, Scott McCarron, Colin Montgomerie and Kelly. “PGA TOUR Champions keeps getting better and better, and the great competition pushes me to find ways to improve so I can continue to compete at the highest level.”

In 2017, Langer became the first player to complete the “Senior Slam” when he won the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, and two months later he surpassed Jack Nicklaus as the Tour’s all-time leader in major victories (10) when he won The Senior Open Championship. In all, he has 36 career wins, which is nine shy of Hale Irwin’s record of 45.

“Bernhard’s career includes several great seasons, and he excelled in 2017,” said PGA TOUR Champions President Greg McLaughlin. “He always seemed to play his best when it counted the most, and to win seven times—including two Charles Schwab Cup Playoff events and three major championships—is a remarkable accomplishment.”

Kelly was the only rookie to win in 2017, and his two victories helped him finish seventh in the final Charles Schwab Cup standings, best among first-year players. He rose to the top of a celebrated rookie class that included David Toms, Steve Flesch and Steve Stricker. After turning 50 on November 23, 2016, Kelly debuted with a tie for third at the Chubb Classic. He added three more top-10s before entering the winner’s circle at the Boeing Classic. That victory started a streak of five consecutive top-10s, which included another victory at the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship. He finished the year with the fifth-best scoring average (69.34), thanks in part to his record-setting streak of 16 straight rounds in the 60s, and he was seventh in the final Charles Schwab Cup standings.

“I came out for my first year on PGA TOUR Champions and was incredibly surprised at the level of play,” said Kelly, who won the player vote over David Toms. “I felt very fortunate to win twice and hopefully I can continue to contend for many years to come.”

“We had an incredible rookie class in 2017, and Jerry played very well and earned the title of Rookie of the Year,” McLaughlin added. “To finish seventh in the final Charles Schwab Cup standings in his first year is an outstanding achievement on PGA TOUR Champions.”

Langer is defending one of his titles this week, at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. Kelly is also playing, making his first appearance in the tournament.

 

PGA TOUR Champions Players of the Year

1990    Lee Trevino

1991    Mike Hill, George Archer

1992    Lee Trevino

1993    Dave Stockton

1994    Lee Trevino

1995    Jim Colbert

1996    Jim Colbert

1997    Hale Irwin

1998    Hale Irwin

1999    Bruce Fleisher

2000    Larry Nelson

2001    Allen Doyle

2002    Hale Irwin

2003    Tom Watson

2004    Craig Stadler

2005    Dana Quigley

2006    Jay Haas

2007    Jay Haas

2008    Bernhard Langer

2009    Bernhard Langer

2010    Bernhard Langer

2011    Tom Lehman

2012    Tom Lehman

2013    Kenny Perry

2014    Bernhard Langer

2015    Bernhard Langer

2016    Bernhard Langer

2017    Bernhard Langer

 

PGA TOUR Champions Rookies of the Year

1990    Lee Trevino

1991    Jim Colbert

1992    Dave Stockton

1993    Bob Murphy

1994    Jay Sigel

1995    Hale Irwin

1996    John Bland

1997    Gil Morgan

1998    Joe Inman

1999    Bruce Fleisher

2000    Doug Tewell

2001    Bob Gilder

2002    Morris Hatalsky

2003    Craig Stadler

2004    Mark McNulty

2005    Jay Haas

2006    Eduardo Romero

2007    Denis Watson

2008    Bernhard Langer

2009    Russ Cochran

2010    Fred Couples

2011    Kenny Perry

2012    Kirk Triplett

2013    Rocco Mediate

2014    Scott Dunlap

2015    Jerry Smith

2016    Paul Broadhurst

2017    Jerry Kelly

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