Former Oklahoma State golfers Peter Uihlein eschewed the PGA Tour to go over to Europe a few years ago and try his hand at the Challenge Tour (Europe’s version of the Web.com Tour).
That went well as he won the Madeira Islands Open this May, thus earning his European Tour card for the rest of the season.
He took full advantage of it notching five top 10s the rest of the year and finishing 14th in the Race to Dubai — ahead of bigger names like Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy.
On Monday he was honored for his success by becoming the first American to win the European Tour rookie of the year award.
"It’s an honor to win the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award," said Uihlein. "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."
Uihlein also noted what a launching pad his first win was for the rest of his season.
"The win in Madeira was great and I had a lot of top tens. I played well all week in Madeira and handled myself well in the wind, and it was nice to get the job done. The win opened a few doors for me and I was able to play at Wentworth (the BMW PGA Championship) the following week.
"I was supposed to start the year on the Challenge Tour, but instead I was 11th in The Race to Dubai heading into the final event, so it wasn’t what I’d planned on but obviously it’s fantastic the way it has worked out."