In the days before Tiger Woods was named PGA Tour Player of the Year, there was a valid question bobbing in the waters whose answer never seemed to surface.
If the man who admittedly judges his own performance on major championship results doesn't win one, then how can his season be deemed more successful than that of someone who did?
There's no right or wrong answer when it comes to the POY debate, but with five wins in 2013, giving the award to Woods felt more right than wrong – even if he'd trade that season for someone else's.
Here's where it gets tricky: Spoon-feed Woods a dose of truth serum and he'd likely admit that he would rather have the two-win campaign of Phil Mickelson or Adam Scott, each of whom won a major. Not that regular season titles mean nothing to him, but at this point the opportunity to inch closer to Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 is eminently more appealing than claiming his billionth win at a place like Torrey Pines or Bay Hill.
That doesn’t mean, though, that a two-win season with a major is “better” – whatever better really means anyway. Let’s be logical here: Woods won two-and-a-half times more trophies than anyone else and eclipsed the next closest contender on the money list by $2 million. To maintain that the seasons of Mickelson or Scott were better is to believe that one major trumps four other wins. You can certainly make that argument, but it’s an uphill climb.
And really, that’s the issue here. Woods himself has elevated the personal importance of winning a major to such a degree that we collectively shrug when he posts a memorable season that doesn’t include one. Think of it this way: If instead of Woods it was, say, Brandt Snedeker or Matt Kuchar or Henrik Stenson who had posted five wins this year, would there even be a debate about the POY race? Of course not.
When it comes to Woods, though, he’s raised his own bar to a level where anything short of the Grand Slam is almost considered a failure.
At one point during the teleconference to announce his award Friday, Woods was asked what would make next season even better than this past one. He responded with a familiar reprise: “The goal is to win each and every event I tee it up in.”
If he does that next season, maybe – just maybe – there won’t be any debate as to whether he deserves the award.