A Real Awards Race is Brewing
Whether it was at Kapalua, Pebble Beach or Torrey Pines, the PGA Tour annual awards ceremony always featured the same routine -- Woods accepting another trophy as player of the year, making a crack about surviving a confirmed media slump, reminding everyone that winning a major constitutes a great year.
This hasn't been a great year for Woods -- yet.
And unless he wins the PGA Championship next week at Oak Hill, it might be time for someone else to pick up the tour's top prize for the first time in five years.
That could be a half-dozen players, starting with Masters champion Mike Weir and ending with British Open champion Ben Curtis.
Major championships carry that much weight.
In 1998, the only year Woods didn't win the award, PGA Tour players voted for Mark O'Meara and his two majors instead of David Duval, who won four tournaments, the money title and the Vardon Trophy for lowest scoring average.
The last guy to win player of the year without winning a major was Greg Norman in 1995. The Shark won three times, never missed a cut, captured the money title with a record $1.6 million and had the tour's lowest scoring average. His peers deemed him superior to Corey Pavin (U.S. Open, Nissan Open, third on the money list).
Unless someone wins two majors, the race is wide open, and a victory at Oak Hill would thrust Vijay Singh, Ernie Els and David Toms into the player-of-the-year mix.
Otherwise, here is how it's shaping up:
Tiger Woods is the first player in PGA Tour history to win at least four times in five straight seasons, particularly impressive because he has played only 11 times because of knee surgery. He also leads the money list by $400,000 over Jim Furyk, and is virtually a lock to win the Vardon Trophy for the fifth straight year.
Besides not winning a major, Woods is hurt by having already won the award five times. If it's close, players might be inclined to reward a career-year -- Weir or Furyk -- over someone who has been there, done that.
But if no one captures two majors, and Woods winds up with the most victories, most money and lowest scoring average, it will be tough to deny he was the tour's best player.
Outlook: If he wins the PGA Championships, the race is over. Otherwise, Woods will have to win at least six times and have $1 million more than anyone else.
Mike Weir became the first Canadian and the first lefty to win the Masters, capping off a stunning spring in which he also won the Bob Hope Classic and the Nissan Open at Riviera. He still has a chance to win the money title (only $500,000 behind) and is second in scoring average.
Outlook: Win the PGA Championship and the trophy goes north of the border. If not, he might need to win the money title, one more tournament and hope that Woods doesn't win again this year.
He dominated at the U.S. Open and held off Woods and others to win the Buick Open.
Furyk has 12 top 10s going into the PGA Championship, more than any other player. Still, the only other tournament where he had a legitimate chance to win was at Doral (playoff loss to Scott Hoch). He is too far behind to catch Woods for the Vardon Trophy, but the money title is within reach.
Outlook: Win the PGA Championship and he's player of the year. If not, he'll have to win one more tournament to be considered ahead of Weir.
DAVIS LOVE III
Love doesn't have a major, but he gets partial credit for winning the fifth major. He closed with an 8-under 64 in cold, windy conditions to win The Players Championship, and won at Pebble Beach and at Hilton Head.
Having started his PGA Tour career when Woods was still in elementary school, this might be Love's best chance at player of the year.
Outlook: A victory at Oak Hill makes him the front-runner because he'll have 11/2 majors. Anything less knocks him out of the picture.
Perryis the hottest player in golf, with three victories among seven straight tournaments in the top 10. Then again, Weir was equally dominant in the spring, and two of Perry's victories (Colonial, Milwaukee) came against fields that did not include all the top players on the money list.
He is the best feel-good story in golf, having won only four times in his previous 17 years on tour.
Outlook: Must win the PGA to merit serious consideration, or double his victories over the final two months.
One major played, one major won.
Does two major championships make him player of the year? It worked for O'Meara in 1998, although he was 41 and had amassed 14 wins in his career. Curtis is a 26-year-old rookie who started the year hopeful of keeping his card.
Outlook: Winning the PGA is his only a chance, but he'll still be at the awards ceremony as rookie of the year.
Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Angela hits Sergio in stride on field at Superdome
Sergio and Angela Garcia's super 2017 keeps getting more ... Super ... Dome. (+1 awful blog lede.)
The couple started the year with Sergio's win at the Masters, then embarked on a whirlwind green jacket media tour, then kicked off El Clasico, then attended Wimbledon, then got married, then announced they were expecting their first child ...
And now, they're throwing each other passes on the New Orleans Saints' home turf at the Superdome.
Man, it must be so cool do that at the Silverdome. ... ... ... I'm sorry, it is the Superdome, brothers.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas
He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.
Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.
Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.
In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.
Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.
Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.
Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic
Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double
Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open
Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open
Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row
Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow
Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship
The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ
Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year
And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season
Photo Galleries: Best of ...
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com counted down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below. And click here for the full collection of articles.
Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge
ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.
The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.
They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.
Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.
Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.
Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.
''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''
The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.
In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''
Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.