Aaron Wise of the US hits his tee shot on the second hole of the Tour Championship tournament and the FedEx Cup final at Eastlake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 22 September 2018. Photo: Tannen Maury/EPA

LOS ANGELES – Aaron Wise, who captured his first US PGA Tour title in his 18th start as a member, won the 2018 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old American, who was born in Cape Town, left South Africa for the United States when his family moved at age three.

“My parents did well to keep food on the table,” Wise said. “We didn't have much.”

Wearing oversized shoes so he would need fewer pairs, Wise battled through to win the 2016 US college title and helped Oregon win the college team crown.

Aaron Wise in action during the US Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. Photo: Tannen Maury/EPA
Aaron Wise in action during the US Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. Photo: Tannen Maury/EPA

Wise earned a US PGA Tour spot for the 2017-18 campaign and in just his 18th start as a member took the Byron Nelson tournament crown, hitting 66 of 72 greens in regulation, the most by any tour winner since 1997.

World number 53 Wise, three off his career-best world ranking, will open his 2017-18 campaign this week at Las Vegas.

Wise was the only rookie to reach the season-ending Tour Championship from among eight who qualified for the playoffs. He became the 10th of 12 rookies in the Tour Championship to win Rookie of the Year in voting by players.

“It has been a year of ups and downs,” Wise said. “The highs have been amazing, but there have been some lows. To finish it on a good note was a point of emphasis.”

Wise was the fifth-youngest player to qualify for the showdown at East Lake, behind Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Spain's Sergio Garcia and South Korea's Kim Si-woo.

“Qualifying for the Tour Championship as a rookie proved there's no stage too big for him,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said.

Agence France-Presse (AFP)