Player of the Year? It's Spieth vs. Day

Jordan Spieth and Jason Day each has a case for PGA Tour Player of the Year. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The 2014-15 PGA Tour schedule is in the books, which means it’s time to hand out hardware and look back at some of the best statistical performances of the season.

PGA Tour Player of the Year

In most seasons, the voting for PGA Tour Player of the Year is a mere formality. It’s a coronation for a player who was head-and-shoulders above the rest of the pack.

Although Jordan Spieth may well have etched his name on the award with his victory at the Tour Championship, this year’s race is easily the best we’ve seen since the award was instituted in 1990.

Spieth’s case begins with the majors. This is the 10th time since 1990 that a player has won multiple majors in a year, and Nick Faldo is the only player who has done so and not been named Player of the Year. Faldo was not a full-time PGA Tour member when he did it in 1990.

And Spieth did more than just win. He finished in the top four in all four majors and finished with a record cumulative score of 54 under par.

But his credentials go beyond the majors. Spieth had 15 top-10 finishes, most on the PGA Tour since Vijay Singh had 18 in 2005.

Speaking of Singh, there’s the matter of the money.

The record books will say Spieth won $12.03 million this season, which in itself is $1.13 million more than the previous PGA Tour record, set by Singh when he won nine times in 2004.

Factoring in the $10 million Spieth took home for winning the FedExCup, the haul for the 22-year-old is north of $22 million. To put that figure in perspective, it’s more than the total value of all the PGA Tour purses combined in 1984, when Tom Watson won the money title with $476,000.

If Spieth does win Player of the Year, it will make Jason Day a very tough-luck loser. Day would become the first player since the award's inception to win five tournaments but not win Player of the Year.

Day’s season featured a major championship scoring record at the PGA Championship (20 under par) and four wins in a six-start stretch. He played the final 32 rounds of his season in a cumulative 103 strokes under par.

In the FedExCup era (since 2007), no player had been better than 80 under par from The Open through the Tour Championship before Day.

Whoever wins the award, it is a duel unlike any we have seen in more than four decades. The last PGA Tour season that featured multiple players with five wins was 1973, when Jack Nicklaus (seven) and Tom Weiskopf (five) did it. Each player also won a major championship that year.

Who’s No. 1?

With the win, Spieth will take back the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking, meaning this is a record sixth consecutive week that the name at the top of the rankings will change. The previous record was five straight weeks, originally set in 1997, when Greg Norman, Ernie Els and Tiger Woods traded the top spot back and forth.

This will be Spieth’s fourth week at No. 1, matching Rory McIlroy for the second-most weeks before a player’s 23rd birthday. Woods (53 weeks) holds that record.

It was a hard road (hole)

The 17th hole at St. Andrews played to a stroke average of 4.655 at The Open, making it the most difficult hole on the PGA Tour this season, in relation to par.

Each of the last five times The Open has come to St. Andrews, the 17th hole has played as both the hardest hole on the course and the hardest hole on the PGA Tour for the season.

Taking it deep

If 300 yards is the magic number in driving distance these days, nobody had more magic than rookie Tony Finau this season. Finau reached the 300-yard mark on a Tour-best 608 drives.

Among qualifying players, David Toms had the fewest 300-yarders with 28 –- the same number that J.B. Holmes had in the Tour Championship alone.

From way downtown

Aaron Baddeley had one top-10 finish in 25 starts on the PGA Tour this season, but on one hole, he was perfect.

At the Valero Texas Open, Baddeley lost his tee ball on the 17th hole in the first round, re-teed and holed the shot from 336 yards for a birdie.

It was the longest hole-out of the season, 99 yards longer than the second-longest of its kind. Daniel Berger sank a 237-yard shot in the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Farewell to Freddie’s streak

In a season full of historic moments, Freddie Jacobson’s three-putt in the second round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans brought to an end one of the year’s most remarkable streaks.

Jacobson had gone a PGA Tour-record 542 holes without a three-putt, and it’s a mark that might stand for a while. The longest active streak belongs to Holmes at 215 holes.