Peter Uihlein, the 2010 U.S. Amateur champion and a two-time USA Walker Cup Team member, was awarded the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award following a hugely successful first season on The PGA European Tour.
The 24-year-old Uihlein is the first American player to win the prestigious award, and follows such legends as Sir Nick Faldo (1977), Sandy Lyle (1978), José María Olazábal (1986) and Colin Montgomerie (1988). More recent winners include Sergio Garcia (1999), Ian Poulter (2000), Paul Casey (2001), Martin Kaymer (2007) and Matteo Manassero (2010).
Having turned professional in December 2011 following a stellar amateur career, Uihlein secured a European Challenge Tour card for 2013 and made a promising start. He also received several invitations for European Tour events, and took advantage of the opportunities to notch top-10 finishes in the Tshwane Open and the Open de España early in the season.
His season-changing victory came in May, at the Madeira Islands Open, through which he earned full European Tour status and saw his schedule dramatically change for the rest of the year. He followed up by tying for 10th in both the BMW International Open and the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
In August, Uihlein nearly won the ISPS Handa Wales Open, finishing second, and came within a shot of notching the first 59 in European Tour history at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, where he carded a second-round 60 at Kingsbarns, one of three courses used for the event. Uihlein lost to David Howell in a playoff for the title. He ended the season at No. 14 in the Tour’s Race to Dubai points standings, having played 24 official events.
“It’s an honor to win the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award,” said Uihlein, a former No. 1-ranked player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking who was an All-American at Oklahoma State. “I wasn’t expecting it, but it’s been a great year and I’m very pleased. I think I’m the first non-European to win it, so that’s a great honor. Any time you’re the first of anything, it’s neat.”
As an amateur, Uihlein clinched the deciding point in the USA’s 16.5-9.5 victory over Great Britain and Ireland at the 2009 Walker Cup at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. The next summer, Uihlein defeated David Chung, 4 and 2, in the U.S. Amateur final at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash. He was also a member of the 2011 USA Walker Cup Team that fell to GB&I at Royal Aberdeen in Scotland.
Material from the PGA European Tour was used for this article.