When Jack Nicklaus carried the award named after himself to present to McIlroy on Wednesday, even McIlroy seemed surprised. Since 1992, the PGA of America award and PGA Tour player vote have agreed on the best golfer of the season.
Sungjae Im of South Korea was voted PGA Tour rookie of the year.
After playing exclusively in the United States until July, skipping the Irish Open at Lahinch, McIlroy racked up 14 top-10 finishes in the U.S. and vowed to repeat his US-based schedule in 2020 before admitting that with a May 28-31 date likely for the Irish Open in 2020, he'd "definitely" play if such a move is confirmed.
"Brooks had an incredible year - an incredible two, three years, whatever it is", McIlroy said. The Irishman failed to contend in any of the four major championships. He didn't seriously contend in any of them and missed the cut at Royal Portrush in the first time in 68 years the British Open was held in his native Northern Ireland. Koepka also won three times, including the PGA Championship and a World Golf Championship.
This isn't exactly Antonio Brown setting himself on fire and running around in circles during opening week on the National Football League season, but the surprising result will no doubt be debated during this week's usually quiet season-opening Greenbrier Classic where World No. 10 Bryson Dechambeau is the highest ranked player in the field.
"While there are a number of honors one can receive in this game, PGA TOUR Player of the Year has to be among the most satisfying as it comes directly from his peers", Monahan said.
He won three times, same as McIlroy, led the FedEx Cup in the regular season and won the money title by almost $2 million over McIlroy. So we'll never know by how large a margin McIlroy beat Koepka or who voted for whom. Not for his major record alone, but for how it further highlights McIlroy's major miscues.
Perhaps it tells us that PGA Tour pros consider a win at the Players Championship equal in weight to a win at a major.
There's no event on the Sunshine Tour this week as the next stop on the local circuit will be the Vodacom Origins of Golf Humewood in the Eastern Cape on September 26. "I wanted to try to bring my best every single week that I played, and I feel like I did that to the best of my ability". The caveat here for McIlroy, of course, is that it can be the unofficial whatever, but it's technically not a major.
McIlroy also added 14 top-10 finishes.
The Tour doesn't disclose the results of the votes, only the victor.
Koepka is only the fifth player to finish in the top five in all four majors in one season during the Masters era (since 1934); Nicklaus (1971 and '73), Woods (2000 and '05), Rickie Fowler (2014) and Jordan Spieth (2015) were the others.
There's the KLM Open teeing off at The International in the capital of Holland on Thursday, and the Greenbrier Classic at White Sulphur Springs for the resumption of the PGA Tour.
Worldwide team captain Ernie Els and United States captain Woods will make their four selections to complete their 12-man teams on November 4 for the December 9-15 matchplay showdown at Royal Melbourne. None of that should matter and almost every player I've spoken to is mightily impressed by Koepka and sees his mental fortitude as something to strive for.