Punch Shot: 2013 Global Player of the Year

Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have all won multiple events around the world, with Scott and Mickelson also adding majors to their resumes. Accounting for their performances on all tours, who was the Global Player of the Year?


By RANDALL MELL

Nobody’s season packed more emotional clout than Adam Scott’s, not even Phil Mickelson’s.

Yes, that in itself doesn’t make Scott’s year the best globally, but you factor in the historical significance of his major championship breakthrough at the Masters and you have your trump card comparing years with Tiger Woods and Henrik Stenson. The fact that Scott’s the only one of the three to win a major elevates the argument.

Breaking through Australia’s long history of Masters failures and building on it with a playoff win late this summer and then back-to-back wins in his Australian homecoming this fall give Scott’s 2013 record the kind of substantial meaning that stays with you. Scott’s Australian PGA and Australian Masters wins may not have been against elite fields, but it’s still storybook stuff given the gravity of his return to his Aussie roots. Scott has done more than enough around his major to separate himself from Woods’ five PGA Tour titles this year against star-studded fields and Stenson’s historical feat becoming the first player to win the FedEx Cup and the Race to Dubai.

Whose year is going to stand out most a decade from now? Scott’s will. Stenson’s will be a close second because he will be remembered for his FedEx Cup/Race to Dubai double. Woods had a terrific year, but he lacked the win we won’t forget. That's where he falls short in this argument.

Defining “best” is usually a subjective enterprise, and emotional clout is this writer's defining measurement this season. 



By RYAN LAVNER

Only a historic achievement could keep a five-win Tiger Woods from being named the unofficial Global Player of the Year for 2013.

That’s precisely what happened, of course, as Henrik Stenson became the first player to win the end-of-season prizes on both the PGA and European tours.

Make no mistake, no player – not Tiger, not Adam Scott, not Matt Kuchar or Brandt Snedeker – has been as good as Stenson since the end of March.

Since the Shell Houston Open, the world No. 3 has 10 top-10s (seven of which were T-3 or better), three wins – the same number as Woods – no finish worse than 21st at the majors and, now, the FedEx and Race to Dubai titles.

That last accomplishment cannot be understated. He was at or near the top of the standings throughout the four-event series, the one with all of the pressure and expectation, and he twice rose to the occasion to win both season finales in dominating fashion.

The historic feat might never be duplicated, and it’s why he gets the edge – the very slight edge – over Woods for global POY.


By JASON SOBEL

My head is spinning. Give me Adam Scott, but ask me again in a few minutes and I’ll probably change my mind.

I’ve already written that Tiger Woods was rightly voted PGA Tour POY; I’m sticking with that one, because the 2013 season came and went with Woods as the best player. In last week’s Punch Shot, I chose Phil Mickelson’s season over that of Scott in what I called “a toss-up.” On the heels of Scott breaking their worldwide title tie at the Australian Masters, I’m taking a mulligan and taking Scott this time.

If all of this reeks of indecisiveness, you’re right – and I haven’t even gotten started on Henrik Stenson yet, who wrested away Hottest Golfer on the Planet honors on Sunday after Scott held the honor for, oh, about six hours.

Here’s my current line of reasoning: Despite Woods’ five wins this year (two in WGC events) and despite Stenson’s FedEx Cup/Race to Dubai combo platter, they’d each trade those titles for the green jacket. Mickelson, of course, has a major of his own, but he now trails Scott’s win total by one.

And yes, I know some people will point to the Aussie’s two latest wins Down Under and remind that they came against inferior fields, but I’d counter that you can only beat everyone else who’s playing and as a native son returning home, these tournaments mean a great deal to Scott. He isn’t just showing up and being handed an oversized paycheck; he deserves the accolades.

So that does it. Scott is my Global POY. Unless he flames out this week. Or Woods wins his own World Challenge in a few weeks. Or I just change my mind. Hey, it’s been known to happen before.

Quick postscript to this conversation: The mere fact that there’s a debate is great for the game. In too many years, this is a slam-dunk choice. Having the game’s best players all playing great golf shouldn’t be reason for vitriolic arguments, but rather cause for celebration. OK, postscript over. Stepping off the soapbox now.


By JAY COFFIN

How quickly we forget how good Tiger Woods was this year.

Henrik Stenson has played fantastic golf the past four months and won three times. Adam Scott won against two shabby fields in Australia the last two weeks. Yet, all of a sudden, both could be considered as a hypothetical Global Player of the Year? Really? We're having this conversation?

Woods' five victories, including The Players Championship (which most reasonable people consider the deepest field in golf) and two World Golf Championships seem to have been tossed aside for a new flavor of the month. But, truth is, those three victories alone are each more significant than any of Stenson's three wins, essentially disqualifying him from this argument.

Sure, a certain amount of pressure was on Scott to perform in Australia for the first time as a Masters champion, but both the Aussie PGA and Aussie Masters fields were paltry. Wins there are significant to Scott, but should not be considered significant for the purposes of this discussion.

There was plenty of Twitter buzz Sunday about this topic. Much of it was pure anti-Tiger sentiment, which is to be expected. The most common take against Woods, however, pointed to the fact he didn't win a major. Many said that Woods would much rather have had Scott's season. True. But the question isn't which season you'd rather have, it's who was the best player this year from beginning to end? Woods likely would rather have had Jason Dufner's season, so that point doesn't carry any weight.

Several of my British brethren scoffed at Woods' resume, saying I was too pro-America and that I was off base because I didn't consider anything important that happened outside the U.S. Well, Stenson only won once outside the states, and we've already poked holes in Scott's Aussie stretch.

If there were such an award, Tiger Woods would be golf's Global Player of the Year. It really isn't debatable.

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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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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.  

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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.”