After a four-day stay at Ft. Bragg for a mini-boot camp (no word if he wore Nikes), Tiger Woods will now focus on trying to catch, gulp, Phil Mickelson. Thats right, Woods doesnt have nearly as much to brag about in 2004.
Phils 2004 totals:
Nine events, two wins, $3.5 million (first on money list), eight top 10s, first in scoring.
Tigers 2004 totals:
Seven events, one win, $1.9 million (sixth on money list), four top 10s, 14th in Scoring.
So, many of you seem to think that the media has gone overboard on Tiger Woods. Heres what I believe. Woods is the PGA Tours best player. Woods is the worlds best player. The World Golf Rankings say Tiger is the top player. BUT, if the ranking is decided only by current status, form, etc., then Woods is hardly the best player right now.
When guys like me are on the air and say, Well be back with more on the Worlds No. 1, this is simply going by the World Golf Rankings and not said with any bias. Period. Dont think any different.
That said, here is my Top 10 based solely on personal opinion as it stands TODAY, given the years events:
1. Phil Mickelson
2. Vijay Singh
3. Ernie Els
4. Davis Love III
5. Padraig Harrington
6. Tiger Woods
7. Stuart Appleby
8. Mike Weir
9. K.J. Choi
10. Chad Campbell
Mickelson is the top money man, hes the most consistent this year and hes won the years first major. To tell you the truth, Id have given Mickelson strong consideration for the top spot even if Els had won.
Hilton Head is upon us which is the 16th event of 48 this season. So lets take it a step further and give out some early season awards: Player of the Year:
Mickelson ' should be the U.S. Open favorite (T4 95)Rookie of the Year:
Zach Johnson ' should reach Tour ChampionshipSurprise of the Year:
John Daly ' I never expected it and hes probably just starting.Disappointment of Year:
Tiger ' this will turn around, but when? This year?Impact Player of Year:
Adam Scott ' a close choice over Z. JohnsonStoryline of Year:
Just how close is Woods? Is Phil just warming up?Next to Break Through:
Jerry Kelly ' better than most, easily tougher than mostFeel Good Story of Year:
Jay Haas ' 50-something, nothing to it! Just win one!
How about some random thoughts with the first major of the season behind us: Go ahead, label Sergio Garcia as a whiner. But he might have a point about being forgotten of late. The problem is, hes obviously too worried about being forgotten. Still, I dont think there is a media member or golf fan around that doesnt consider him a threat to win a major at any time. Heres the difference, Sergio. Of late youre a threat, but not a favorite.
The new best player without a major might just be Chad Campbell. Im not putting pressure on him, just saying hes as good as they come and certainly has the level of talent necessary. Hes too tough to fold the next time he gets in the hunt.
Is Kirk Triplett not the most underappreciated player on the PGA Tour? All this guy does is play consistent golf. Hell kill the Champions Tour someday.
When Briny Baird wins a PGA Tour event this year, dont say Briny who? Hes really becoming one of the better players on tour. Watch his numbers and track his finishes.
Tiger usually is M.I.A. between now and the U.S. Open. Youll see him at the Memorial Tournament, perhaps the EDS Byron Nelson Championship. I just wish hed commit to a few more regular events to work his way out of the jam hes in. Heck, at 14th in scoring on the PGA Tour he could use the low rounds these days!
And two final thoughts to leave you with:
Phil Mickelson would have every right to tell the media to buzz off for about a month. He endured more than his fare share of the wrong kind of spotlight. But, heres what I think: the media figured Phil would have won one (major) a long time ago. We realize he is deserving and just couldnt believe it didnt happen. Liken it to the Buffalo Bills if you want, but it gets magnified even further by the point that its a one-man game. Plus, we can all relate. Im just glad the storys over. Lets move on because as we discussed on the Sprint Post-Game, Lefty has a lot of great things to say other than why he hadnt yet won a major.
Lets hope Tiger gets it back quick. This is the best time ever for this sport. Phil at his best, Singh at his best, Els at his best, Love at his best and so many other stars who now want to beat Tiger at his very best. Trust me, its not nearly as rewarding to beat the best when theyre not even close to their best. And if Tiger has designs on being the best ever, he needs to consistently knock off the others while theyre at their highest level.
Pretty great year already, huh?!
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