Player of the Year shouldn't even be in question

By Doug FergusonSeptember 23, 2013, 11:22 pm

ATLANTA – Tiger Woods always has been measured against Jack Nicklaus and his 18 majors, and most recently Sam Snead and his 82 PGA Tour victories.

Now he's being measured against himself.

And it's not a fair fight.

The PGA Tour sent out its awards ballot Monday to those players eligible to vote. The winners are to be announced Friday.

Woods should be a lock for Player of the Year, provided he is measured against the other four names on the ballot instead of the previous seasons when he won the award.

He won five times this year, and the only tournament that could be classified as a medium-strength field was at Torrey Pines. Woods won two World Golf Championships, at Doral and Firestone. He won The Players Championship on perhaps his least favorite course on tour. And he won Bay Hill. The world ranking points he earned from those five wins alone were more than any player has earned all year except for Henrik Stenson.

But he didn't win a major, the very standard by which Woods measures a great season. And there was nothing particularly memorable about his wins, except that two of them were on a Monday and all of them were on courses where he had won before. In fact, Woods couldn't even remember where he won. It was a harmless oversight, but no less amusing, when Woods last week at East Lake put himself down for winning Memorial instead of Torrey Pines. Nice problem to have.

Woods already has won the award 10 times. His record this year is worse than every season he won the award except 2003. So this has been a great season by any other comparison except with himself.


Photos: History of the PGA Tour Players of the Year


Three of the last four winners did not win a major.

Luke Donald won in 2011 with only two victories, one of them at Disney. He also won the money title and the Vardon Trophy, and his win at Disney was one of clutch performances. Needing nothing short of a win to be the first player with money titles on both sides of the Atlantic in the same year, he birdied the first six holes on the back nine and shot 64 to do just that.

Jim Furyk won in 2010 with only three victories and one other significant trophy – the FedEx Cup. Phil Mickelson won the Masters that year, but the other majors went to players who weren't even PGA Tour members at the time (Graeme McDowellLouis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer).

Woods won in 2009 with seven wins and a sweep of all the other awards (Vardon, money title).

To be sure, Mickelson and Adam Scott could have made a convincing case by winning the Tour Championship. That would have given either of them three wins, including a major and the FedEx Cup (Mickelson would have needed some help for the latter).

But they didn't.

One of the more famous sayings in golf is that the scorecard has only a number, not pictures.

These are the numbers:

- Woods led the league with five wins. He won the money title by over $2 million. He won the Vardon Trophy for lowest adjusted scoring average.

- Scott won the Masters and The Barclays, which arguably has the strongest field in golf. He finished in the top 5 at two other majors.

- Mickelson won the British Open and the Phoenix Open. He was runner-up in the U.S. Open.

Stenson also is on the ballot with two FedEx Cup playoff wins and the trophy itself (along with the $10 million bonus). He finished in the top 3 at two other majors. Two great wins and zero majors don't cut it. Matt Kuchar is also on the ballot, but only for balance. He had his best year ever with two wins. That will have to do.

Adding pictures to the scorecard is the only thing that could change the vote.

Mickelson came within in a dimple of 59 in the Phoenix Open. He had the lead on the back nine at Merion and was runner-up at the U.S. Open for the sixth time. He bounced back to win the British Open – the major not even Mickelson thought he could win – with what his peers consider one of the greatest closing rounds in a major. It left him one leg short of the Grand Slam, though winning on a links course already defines him as a complete player even without a U.S. Open.

Scott became the first Aussie in a green jacket and he was leading the British Open on the back nine until making four straight bogeys. He was poised for a run at the Tour Championship until getting sick at the wrong time.

Both are great stories. But did they have better years?

Here are a few things to keep in mind. This is a vote of the players, and there's no telling how they define the award. Best player or best year? Do they have an agenda? Is it a popularity contest? Still baffling is Rickie Fowler winning rookie of the year in 2010 over Rory McIlroy, even though McIlroy won at Quail Hollow, Fowler didn't win at all and neither reached the Tour Championship.

Is it a sentimental pick for Mickelson, the greatest to have never won Player of the Year? Is there resentment toward Woods for how he handled the penalty given to him at Conway Farms for his ball moving?

The Tour won't release results, only a winner. And it won't reveal voter turnout. Most of these guys only pay attention to their tee times.

One final thought as it relates to Woods: If his record this year belonged to any other player, would this even be a debate?

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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.