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Cut Line: Woods claims POY; Spieth tops rookie class

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Before we turn the page to next season – the 2013-14 campaign is off and running in just under 14 days – Cut Line takes one final look at a post-season filled with wild finishes, weather and no shortage of wonderful performances.

Made Cut

Appreciation. For all the speculation that the rank-and-file may somehow put two and two together and come up with five, reason prevailed in the annual PGA Tour Player of the Year voting.

There had been speculation that somehow Tiger Woods’ five victories weren’t good enough to deliver the world No. 1 his 11th Jack Nicklaus Award but on Friday the trophy went to this season’s only five-time Tour winner.

“It’s been an incredible year,” Woods said. “A fantastic year all around and an incredible feeling to be voted by your peers and have that kind of respect is very humbling.”

Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson – who both had three fewer Tour titles than Woods but did put majors on their resumes in 2013 – were considered the primary challengers largely because Woods failed to win a major for the fifth consecutive season.

In the end, however, the electorate went with Woods and his five bottle caps, which came against some the year’s deepest fields on the toughest golf courses (Farmers Insurance Open, Arnold Palmer Invitational, WGC-Cadillac Championship, The Players and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational).

Glad to see Tour types leaving the protest vote to the folks in Washington D.C. and the United Nations.

Jordan rules. It was kind of the Tour to include a few other names on the Rookie of the Year ballot, but this hasn’t been a contest since Jordan Spieth beat Zach Johnson in a playoff at the John Deere Classic in July.

Spieth earned his card when he tied for second at the Puerto Rico Open and followed that with a tie for seventh at the Tampa Bay Championship. He was the only rookie to qualify for the Tour Championship and also was selected by U.S. captain Fred Couples to play next week’s Presidents Cup.

But perhaps the most impressive feat for the 20-year-old is when he became the first player to earn a start at the Tour Championship after beginning the season with no Tour status since Woods in 1996 and the youngest ever to play the finale.

“To start off the year with no status and to win a tournament and not only that but get to the Tour Championship and finish in the top 10 on the money list is pretty incredible,” Woods said of Spieth.

Over the last decade or so it’s been too easy to label a young player the next big thing, but in Spieth’s case he’s come by the title honestly.

Tweet of the week: @KipHenley (Brian Gay’s caddie Kip Henley) “The Tour found out I received testosterone injections in my butt, now I am facing a 111 toornament [sic] suspension.”

Funny guy, that Henley. But if a Tour caddie is going to run afoul of the circuit’s PED program Cut Line’s money is on Steve Srticker’s man Jimmy Johnson. That guy has put in some serious OT this season.


Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

Don't call it a comeback. In March 2012 the Tour policy board voted to stop giving out the Comeback Player of the Year Award, the byproduct of Steve Stricker’s consecutive victories in CPOY voting and what appears to be a lack of interest.

But if Henrik Stenson’s climb from the competitive trash heap to FedEx Cup champion doesn’t qualify as a bona fide comeback, then we don’t know what does.

Last year at this time, the Swede was 120th in the World Ranking and 111th on the final FedEx Cup point list. Following his victory at the season-ending Tour Championship on Sunday, his second Tour victory in three starts, his biggest concern was coming up with ways to spend his $11.4 million FedEx Cup haul.

The Tour replaced the comeback award with the PGA Tour Courage Award, which will likely be given for the first time in 2013 with Erik Compton being the top candidate to win the inaugural trophy, but it just seems like a missed opportunity considering how far Stenson has come.

Too much of a good thing. Practice tee lore has it that it was the top players who wanted the condensed schedule that the FedEx Cup era delivered, but last week at East Lake the consequence of scale seemed to shift that reality.

“I’m tired. It’s been just a long, long grind,” Woods said at the Tour Championship, and three days later Phil Mickelson suggested he would consider cutting his schedule by 25 percent in the future to maintain his competitive edge.

Things don’t get any easier next year, when the bye week which normally follows the Deutsche Bank Championship is shifted to after the Tour Championship, or 2016, when the Olympic Games condense the schedule even more.

Something has to give, and in practical terms that likely means top players like Woods and Mickelson will start looking for their own “bye” weeks in the future. Note to officials at The Barclays, you may want to hold off on finding that new mattress for Woods next year.


Missed Cut

Democracy. Although the frat brothers got it right with Woods and Spieth earning the Tour’s Player and Rookie of the Year honors, respectively, it is still baffling the circuit refuses to provide the public with voting totals for the year-end awards.

Considering the condensed window for voting this year, ballots were sent out on Monday and had to be in at 5 p.m. on Thursday, it’s likely that voter turnout was lower than in past years, when players had a month or more to cast their ballots.

But if Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., doesn’t feel comfortable publishing participation totals, why not allow for percentages, like voting in most other major professional sports and the World Golf Hall of Fame? Would it really be the end of the world if the public knew that Spieth won the Rookie of the Year Award with 99 percent of the vote (it stands to reason that fellow newcomer David Lingmerth voted for himself)?

Only the Tour could make the cornerstone of democracy (voting) seem so undemocratic.

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