- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 25, 2011

JACKSONVILLE, FLA. (AP) - The PGA Tour was going to send its postseason awards ballot to the players on Tuesday until realizing the World Golf Championship in Shanghai counts as official if a PGA Tour member wins.

So it will wait until after the HSBC Champions next week.

On a slow news day, this became a controversy, and in some corners a conspiracy against Luke Donald. Now players will have only a month, instead of six weeks, to decide which box to check. They might need longer than that to find someone who had a better year than Donald. If what Donald did at Disney was that special _ and it was _ then it won’t be forgotten.

Would it not have been worse if the tour became aware of an oversight and chose to do nothing at all?

Of course, this could have been avoided if the PGA Tour treated the HSBC Champions like the other three WGC events. It’s still a “world” event, even though it’s not held in global communities such as Marana, Ariz., and Akron, Ohio.

Now that’s a controversy.

That also can wait. In the two weeks that players will be on pins and needles waiting for those PGA Tour ballots, here are some other awards worth mulling over.

BEST MAJOR:

It was the first time since 2003 that four players captured their first major, and all were compelling for reasons beyond that. Darren Clarke scores sentimental points, a popular champion whose best golf appeared to be behind him. Rory McIlroy represented the youth movement and smashed scoring records at the U.S. Open. The PGA Championship gets credit for being the only major to go overtime, but that only meant more TV commercials.

There simply was no topping Charl Schwartzel at Augusta National. Eight players had a share of the lead at some point in the final round, and the South African became the first Masters champion to birdie the last four holes. So spectacular was the finish that it overshadowed his 60-foot chip for birdie on No. 1 and holing out from the fairway for eagle on No. 3.

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR:

This award typically goes to a player who returned from some sort of injury, or barring any candidates, a player who really stunk it up the year before.

In this case, the vote is for McIlroy.

The lasting image from the Masters is the 22-year-old burying his head in the crook of his arm when he finished four-putting the 12th hole from 12 feet on his way to blowing a four-shot lead with an 80 in the final round. Yes, he’s young and resilient. But to bounce back two months later and win the U.S. Open by eight shots with a record score was remarkable.

By the way, if Steve Stricker goes 5-0 at the Presidents Cup after sitting out nearly two months with a neck injury, does the PGA Tour put him back on the ballot?

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