Harrington or Tiger for Player of the Year

By Associated PressNovember 18, 2008, 5:00 pm
During a break in a recent meeting, PGA Tour executives were asked their choice for player of the year. Half of them chose Padraig Harrington. The other half raised their hands for Tiger Woods.
 
None received a ballot, which was mailed last week to players for a vote that could show what they regard as relevant.
 
Topping the list of five nominees were Harrington, the British Open and PGA champion who became only the seventh player since 1960 to win consecutive majors in the same season; and Woods, who won four times in six starts, including the U.S. Open in a playoff, before season-ending knee surgery.
 
The 16-man Players Advisory Council and four players on the PGA Tour policy board, which compiled the ballot, added FedEx Cup champion Vijay Singh with his three victories, three-time winner Kenny Perry, and a most peculiar selection of Camilo Villegas, who won the final two playoff events.
 
Why not Anthony Kim, who also had two victories (against full fields), had more top 10s and finished higher on the money list while playing the same number of tournaments?
 
They would have been better off listing only four names rather than snubbing someone.
 
Not that it matters.
 
Players really only have two choices, and this is one case where it might be helpful to have exit polling. Then again, it would really be helpful if the TASS-oriented PGA Tour disclosed the vote totals like every other sport.
 
Harrington is considered the front-runner based on recent precedence and the value of majors.
 
Anytime you win a major championship, its always going to be a great year, Woods said last year after winning the PGA Championship for his only major that season.
 
So what does two majors make it?
 
Since the PGA Tour award began in 1990, no one has won two majors without winning the award. Double major winner Nick Faldo was not a member in 1990 when the inaugural award went to Wayne Levi, who won four times and was second on the money list.
 
Faldo did win the points-based award from the PGA of America in 1990, although Gary Player won two majors in 1974 when the PGA award went to Johnny Miller and his eight victories.
 
If I had been voting, I would have gone with Gary, Miller wrote in the December issue of Golf Digest.
 
And if Miller were voting this year (hes not), his choice would be Harrington. The Irishman had four other top-five finishes, including a tie for fifth in the Masters. But those majors were his only victories.
 
The recent precedence for the PGA Tour award is Mark OMeara in 1998. He won the Masters and British Open at age 41, the oldest player to win two majors in one year. Players voted him over David Duval, who led the tour with four victories, won the PGA Tour money title and the Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average.
 
But the other major champions in 1998 were not worthy of serious consideration. Lee Janzens only victory was the U.S. Open. Vijay Singh tacked on the International a week after winning his first major at the PGA Championship.
 
The other major winners this year were Masters champion Trevor Immelman, who like Janzen had no other victories; and Woods, whose four-month ledger is comparable to Tom Lehmans career.
 
Along with winning the U.S. Open, he was second in the Masters. The only other tournament Woods failed to win was the CA Championship at Doral, where he tied for fifth. He won the Buick Invitational by eight shots, the Accenture Match Play Championship by a record score (8 and 7) and the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a 25-foot birdie on the final hole.
 
Woods sat out the entire month of May after a knee surgery, then missed the final three months of the season because of another operation. He still finished second on the money list, and didnt give up the lead until there were two tournaments left.
 
Thats how dominant Woods was the first half of the season.
 
But over the second half of the season, Harringtons golf was special.
 
A vote for Tiger is essentially saying that had there been no knee injury, he would have won one of the majors that Padraig did, Miller wrote. But there is no assurance that Tiger would have won the British or PGA, and you cant give him credit for winning the majors he didnt play.
 
This might be one time the players agree with Miller.
 
Duval, the subject of such a debate 10 years ago, reached a similar conclusion Tuesday afternoon. Woods record in only six tournaments is worthy of consideration'four wins, one major, no finish worse than fifth, second on the money list.
 
It sure looked like it might have been a walkaway, Duval said. But the fact is, he didnt play. Who knows what would have happened? Youre assuming he would have played that way all year. I dont think thats fair for a player who played all year and won two majors.
 
Lee Westwood suggested this month that Harrington did not have the most consistent year or he would have wrapped up the Order of Merit in Europe without having to play the final month.
 
But when asked about player of the year, he returned to Harrington.
 
Any player that wins two majors in a year has to be classed as the best of the year, Westwood said.
 
If he doesnt win, perhaps Woods can aspire to something else never accomplished.
 
Along with being a perennial candidate for player of the year, Woods might be a shoo-in next season for comeback player of the year.
 
Getty Images

After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 2:19 am

Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.

On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...

Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).

Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.

It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard


On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...

There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.

He sure looks like the real deal, though.  

His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.

Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner

Getty Images

Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:25 am

With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.

He picked up one more No. 2, too.

The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.

In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.

Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.

“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”

Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.

Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.

He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.

Getty Images

Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 1:05 am

Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.

His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.

“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."

Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.

Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.

Getty Images

Rahm beats Landry in playoff to win CareerBuilder

By Nick MentaJanuary 22, 2018, 1:00 am

Jon Rahm birdied the fourth extra hole Sunday to defeat Andrew Landry in a playoff, win the CareerBuilder Challenge and move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how things played out in overtime at PGA West:

Leaderboard: Rahm (-22), Landry (-22), John Huh (-20), Adam Hadwin (-20), Martin Piller (-20), Kevin Chappell (-19), Scott Piercy (-19)

What it means: This is Rahm’s second PGA Tour win and his fourth worldwide victory in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm took the early lead Thursday with an opening 62 and after rounds of 67-70, he started the final round two back. On Sunday, he made five birdies without dropping a single shot on the intimidating Stadium Course. In the clubhouse at 22 under, Rahm watched as Landry made birdie on 18 to force a playoff.

Rahm missed birdie putts that would have ended the tournament on the final hole of regulation and on each playoff hole. Finally, on his fourth trip down 18 of the day, his birdie bid found the cup. With the victory, Rahm passes Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, trailing only Dustin Johnson. He enters next week at Torrey Pines looking to defend for the first time.

Best of the rest: A two-time Web.com winner playing his second full season on the PGA Tour, Landry shot 68 Sunday, making birdie on the 72nd hole to force extras. Once Rahm finally made birdie on the fourth playoff hole, Landry's putt to extend slid by on the right edge. This is Landry's best career finish on the PGA Tour. Had he won, he would have secured full Tour status through the 2019-20 season and earned invites to the Masters, Players, and PGA Championships.

Round of the day: Sam Saunders fired an 8-under 64 to register this best finish of the season, a tie for eighth at 18 under. The reigning Web.com Tour Championship winner was 9 under par through 12 holes before making bogey at 13 and parring his way into the clubhouse.

Biggest disappointment: Overnight leader Austin Cook was eyeing his second win of the season but never contended. The RSM champion carded two double bogeys Sunday en route to a 3-over 75, dropping him from the 54-hole lead to a tie for 14th.

Shot of the day: Rahm's putt to win:

Quote of the day: "One of us had to do it and either one of us would have been a well-deserving champion." - Rahm on his playoff victory over Landry