Alker, who, like Ko, hails from New Zealand, had to earn status on the PGA Tour Champions in 2021 when he turned 50. In his first full season in 2022, he was a dominant force.
Alker, 51, finished in the top 3 in 13 of his 23 starts, won four times – including his first senior major, the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship – and captured the season-long Charles Schwab Cup. Alker earned 50.3 percent of first-place votes to beat out Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker.
“That’s pretty neat, especially with the company that I’m in, with all the names (of past winners),” Alker said. “Lee Trevino, Tom Watson, Hale Irwin, Bernhard (Langer), that’s pretty neat. Look, the awards that come along with a season like that are amazing. It’s fantastic.
“Obviously, I had time to sit down just before Christmas and kind of think about really what I’d done. I’m pleased and proud of myself for the consistency that I had throughout the year. That was the big thing. Padraig put a little pressure on me there at the end and I still had some work to do there at the Schwab Cup Championship. There were some big wins in there, so it was amazing.”
Ko, 25, voted Female Player of the Year, is the only golfer among the three to have been previously honoured as a player of the year by the GWAA. She won in 2015. Scheffler (Male Player of the Year) and Alker (Senior Player of the Year) earned GWAA honours for the first time.
Ko won three times in 2022, winning early (Gainbridge LPGA) and winning late (CME Group Tour Championship), bringing her LPGA victory total to 19. She was Rolex Player of the Year, won the Vare Trophy for low scoring average (68.99), and finished among the top 5 in putting, rounds under par, birdies and sub-par holes.
Ko finished 2022 by getting married in Korea. She earned 79.5 percent of first-place votes, beating finalists Minjee Lee and Atthaya Thitikul.
“What an honour to be awarded the GWAA’s Player of the Year,” Ko said. “It means so much to me to win it for a second time. What an amazing year 2022 turned out to be. So many cool things happened in my life, culminating in my wedding. While nothing could be more special than that, my golf was pretty good, too! I am truly thankful to everyone with the GWAA for recognizing me with this prestigious award.”
Scheffler, 26, broke through for his first PGA Tour victory in February at the WM Phoenix Open and apparently enjoyed the taste of winning. He added victories at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play (where he ascended to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking) and in April, won his first major championship at the Masters. He finished second to Rory McIlroy in the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
He earned 49.2 percent of first-place votes, winning over McIlroy, a three-time winner, and Cameron Smith, whose victories included the Open Championship and The Players.
“It was a great year. I’m very pleased with how the year went,” Scheffler said. “To win an award like that, to be recognized as the best player for the year is really special and something I’ll look back on in my career.”
All three award winners will be honored at the 49th annual ISPS Handa/GWAA Awards Dinner on April 5 in Augusta, Georgia, during the week of the Masters Tournament.