Eric Cole waited more than a decade to get his PGA Tour card after turning pro.
The wait paid off.
Cole, 35, was named the Tour’s 2022-23 Rookie of the Year on Wednesday to win the Arnold Palmer Award. He’s the second-oldest winner of the Arnold Palmer Award in the Tour’s history (Todd Hamilton was 38 when he won in 2004) and he beat out rising star Ludvig Aberg for the title.
The PGA Tour Player of the Year and PGA Tour Rookie of the Year awards are determined by a member vote, with Tour members who played in at least 15 official FedExCup events during the 2022-23 season eligible to vote. Scottie Scheffler was voted Player of the Year.
Cole’s mother, Laura Baugh, was the LPGA Rookie of the Year in 1973.
Cole had seven top-10 finishes last season, including a runner-up at the Honda Classic (now the Cognizant Classic). There were 28 rookies last season and he was the only one to finish in the top 50 of the FedEx Cup standings.
He finished in the top five in four of his final five events in 2023, helping secure his status among the up-and-comers on the PGA Tour and the title of Rookie of the Year.
Over the last 12 months, Cole rose from 228th to 20th in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings but his year did get off to a rocky start. He missed his first four cuts, which included testing positive for COVID-19 at the 2022 Fortinet Championship and then having his clubs stolen a couple weeks later at the Shriners Children’s Open.
He ended up making 37 starts, though, with his best finish coming at the Honda when he fell in a playoff against Chris Kirk. He tied for second at the Zozo Championship in Japan and finished T-3 at the season-ending RSM Classic.
His last missed cut came in May at the Charles Schwab Challenge, making 15 straight cuts to end the year. He’s in the field at the season-opening The Sentry, playing in the first two rounds with Open champion Brian Harman and Camilo Villegas.