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?


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. 


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.


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.


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.