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.
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