By REX HOGGARD
Senior Writer, GolfChannel.com
The memories of men are too frail a thread to hang history from.
-John Still, author of The Jungle Tide
John Still was neither a PGA Tour player nor a golf writer, but his wisdom resonates in the wake of Tuesdays Player of the Year announcement.
Make no mistake, Padraig Harringtons season, if not that fearless 5-wood he roped to the 71st green at Royal Birkdale, was Cooperstown. The Irishmans 08 card is a ready-made instant classic during an era that doesnt lend itself to domination by the rank-and-file. And the man, at least for those who carry notebooks for a living, is a cure for clichs.
But, with apologies to whole of County Dublin, he is not the PGA Tour Player of the Year. That honor belongs to Tiger Woods.
Harrington won twice, a pair of majors that stretches his record in Grand Slam gatherings to three for his last six starts, and earned $4.3 million in 15 Tour starts. Woods won four times in six starts and earned $5.7 million, but thats not why hes your POY. His name should be etched into the Jack Nicklaus Trophy for the tenth time because he became the first player to limp and grimace his way to the top of Mount Olympus on a single wheel.
Rocco Mediate called his 91-hole title bout with Woods at this years U.S. Open, ridiculous. Jay Williamson dubbed the years most manic Monday a David versus Goliath classic. And Woods, a man who avoids hyperbole like three-putts, could only manage a breathless, unbelievable as the sun settled over the grounds June 16 at Torrey Pines.
They wanted a show, they got one, said Mediate, historys David to Woods Torrey Pines Goliath.
A day later the world began to understand the depths of Woods injury when the world No. 1 went under a surgeons knife to end his year. We may never know the extent of Woods injury, but it is safe to say the damage was far worse than Woods ever let on.
Some will say that Harrington deserves the hardware because he completed a metaphorical 72 holes while Woods only made it 36. To that we respectfully offer the Irishmans post-PGA resume. After Oakland Hills, Harrington missed consecutive cuts ' first time hes done that since 2006 ' failed to get past the third round of the playoffs and was a non-starter at Valhalla where he failed to earn a full point for the Europeans.
That Woods delivered two of the seasons hallmark moments ' his 91-hole Open odyssey and a walkoff victory at Bay Hill in March ' while playing a limited schedule on a lame knee should add to his 2008 legacy, not distract from it.
But of all the reasons to give Woods the POY nod, the most convincing was his own assessment of that surreal SoCal soiree.
This is probably the best ever, Woods said when asked to rank where his Torrey Pines Open ranked among his sizable accomplishments. All things considered, I dont know how I ended up in this position to be honest with you.
Neither do we.
By JAY COFFIN
Editorial Director, GolfChannel.com
Word is Tiger Woods won the U.S. Open on one leg. Problem is that two days later he announced hed hang it up for the remainder of the season in lieu of knee surgery.
Thats why Padraig Harrington deserved to be the PGA Tours Player of the Year. The award, afterall, is Player of the Year, not Player of the First-half-of-the-year.
The obvious reason here is because of Harringtons two major championship victories. With such a strong emphasis placed on major champions, these two treasured tokens should outweigh everything else. Sure, Woods wasnt at either tournament, and as much as people would like to believe that hed have won if he was at the British Open or PGA Championship, well never know and shouldnt waste brain matter trying to debate.
With the whole golf world wondering who would step up in Woods absence, Harrington was the only one who did. It wasnt Phil and it wasnt Sergio. It was Paddy, who crafted brilliant final rounds at Royal Birkdale to hunt down Greg Norman and stare down Sergio Garcia in the final stretch at Oakland Hills.
Think back 10 years and youll find a similar scenario to this year. David Duval had won four times, was No. 1 on the money list and lost Player of the Year honors to Mark OMeara, who won a pair of major championships but had no other wins. The only difference in 1998 was that Duval collected his four victories over the entire season. Woods collected them in a six-tournament span.
Its foolish to disregard Woods accomplishments this year and its clear that he received many votes just off his superhuman performance at the U.S. Open. But the award should be based solely on accomplishment, not what he potentially would have done had he played the rest of the year. It was an impressive campaign, but not a complete one.
If Harrington didnt win two majors, this isnt even a debate. Woods wouldve been a unanimous choice. But Harrington did and he deserved the nod.
Besides, Woods had won nine of the past 11 Player of the Year awards. Did he really need an 10th?