Player of the Year Much Ado About Nothing

By George WhiteOctober 30, 2003, 5:00 pm
Im sitting here frankly amazed at the way people are getting all worked up over Player of the Year. Its a merely a label, for goodness sakes, and a totally subjective one at that.
I always considered such a thing to be totally irrelevant, actually. But this year, Tiger Woods lapse into the world of the mere mortal has injected life into an old argument. Is it Tiger, people ask breathlessly? Or Vijay Singh? Those two are the golfers du jour, but most assuredly the peoples choice hangs the thinnest of threads. Ernie Els, Davis Love III, Mike Weir, Kenny Perry or Jim Furyk could catapult themselves to the forefront with a couple of wins to close out the year.
Do you care?
Since the beginning of the season, the argument has raged. Woods, shame on him, was in sick bay, rehabbing a surgically repaired knee. And as if on cue, Ernie Els won two immediately. Els, everyone said sagely, is the new No. 1. Will he lose at all this year?
That lasted until Els went elsewhere after the first two events, out into the Pacific rim, into Australia and faded from collective minds. So now it was Woods again, winning the Buick Championship, winning the WGC-Accenture Match Play, winning Bay Hill. Suddenly, like a boat with too many people shifting from side to side, Tiger was it.
But even Woods said he didnt think he was 100 percent healthy yet, and so Weir became the Player of the Year in April after he won the Masters ' his third win of the infant season. Leap now on the count of three - dont want to be too late to jump on the new bandwagon, you know.
Alas, Weir cooled down a little and here comes Love. Love got lips flapping when he won three in the first half of the year, including the Players Championship. But Love couldnt keep up the torrid pace, and next up would be Jim Furyk. Furyk won the U.S. Open on an extremely difficult track, suddenly spinning heads of those who thought that Furyk had finally arrived as a big-time winner. Er, that is, until Tiger had won for the fifth time this year.
Woods won the Western and then won another big one, the WGC-AmEx. Oh dear, oh dear, fretted the golf scholars. How could we ever have thought anyone but Tiger?
But the train carrying the enormous Tiger crowd suddenly jumped the tracks when Singh got the lead in the money race. Well, many people thought, lets not be so hasty here. We might have been a little foolish in handing the thing to Tiger before the season was over. Maybe we shouldnt decide this thing until the curtain drops on the Tour Championship. Maybe it should have been Singh.
So, do you see what I mean? What does the Player of the Year really mean? In the space of one season, minds have changed at least half a dozen times. Regardless of who gets it, there wont be a clear-cut winner. The player who is tabbed by his fellow golfers will be a split winner, whoever it is.
But, thats basic to our sporting psyches ' we MUST have a single best player. Four different majors gave us four different winners. And golf doesnt have a year-end playoff, no World Series or Super Bowl or BCS champion. If a designated player hasnt won overwhelmingly by the end of the season, then there isnt a clear-cut champion. Its a case of one-man one-vote, with nothing ever firmly settled.
Player of the Year - its just a label, I suppose. Maybe youre into labels. Im not. This label certainly isnt going to designate which player had the best season. You see, its impossible to designate that this year.
Player of the Year? How about, Players of the Year, and leave it go at that. To do otherwise would be to slight some very worthy gents.
Email your thoughts to George White
Getty Images

Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

Getty Images

DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

“I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

“Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

“It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.” 

Getty Images

Closing eagle moves Rory within 3 in Abu Dhabi

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:57 pm

What rust? Rory McIlroy appears to be in midseason form.

Playing competitively for the first time since Oct. 8, McIlroy completed 36 holes without a bogey Friday, closing with an eagle to shoot 6-under 66 to sit just three shots back at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

“I’m right in the mix after two days and I’m really happy in that position,” he told reporters afterward.

McIlroy took a 3 ½-month break to heal his body, clear his mind and work on his game after his first winless year since 2008, his first full season as a pro.

He's back on track at a familiar playground, Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where he’s racked up eight top-11s (including six top-3s) in his past nine starts there.

Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

McIlroy opened with a 69 Thursday, then gave himself even more chances on Day 2, cruising along at 4 under for the day when he reached the par-5 closing hole. After launching a 249-yard long iron to 25 feet, he poured in the eagle putt to pull within three shots of Thomas Pieters (65). 

Despite the layoff, McIlroy edged world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, by a shot over the first two rounds. 

“DJ is definitely the No. 1 player in the world right now, and one of, if not the best, driver of the golf ball," McIlroy said. "To be up there with him over these first two days, it proves to me that I’m doing the right things and gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”

Getty Images

Duke to fill in for injured Pavin at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 12:25 pm

Ken Duke will fill in for Corey Pavin for the next two rounds of the CareerBuilder Challenge – with nothing at stake but his amateur partner’s position on the leaderboard.

Pavin was 4 over par when he withdrew after 17 holes Thursday because of a neck injury. Tournament officials contacted Duke, the first alternate, and asked if he would take Pavin’s spot and partner with Luis Lopez for the next two rounds, even though he would not receive any official money.

Duke accepted and explained his decision on Twitter:

Playing on past champion’s status, the 48-year-old Duke has made only four starts this season, with a best finish of a tie for 61st at the RSM Classic.

Pavin received a sponsor exemption into the event, his first PGA Tour start since the 2015 Colonial.