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.

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Finau lifts team to opening 62 on improving ankle

By Ryan LavnerApril 26, 2018, 6:24 pm

AVONDALE, La. – Tony Finau continues to thrive on his injured ankle.

Playing for the first time since the Masters, where he tied for 10th despite a high-ankle sprain, Finau matched partner Daniel Summerhays with six birdies to shoot a combined 10-under 62 in fourballs Thursday at the Zurich Classic.

Finau still isn’t 100 percent – he said he's closer to 70 percent – even after two weeks of rest and physical therapy. During that time he worked with doctors at the University of Utah Orthopedic Center and also the training staff with the Utah Jazz. Before the Zurich, he had played only nine holes.

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“Sometimes simplicity is huge in this game,” he said. “There is not a lot of thoughts in my swing in the first place, so there can’t be that many thoughts when you don’t practice. It served me well today.”

Partnering with Summerhays, his fellow Utah resident and a friend for more than a decade, they combined to make 12 birdies during an opening round that left them only two shots back of the early lead.

Asked afterward how his ankle felt, Finau said: “Feeling a lot better after that 62. A great remedy for something hurting is some good golf.”  

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Sources: Woods returning to Wells Fargo

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 26, 2018, 6:07 pm

Tiger Woods is expected to return to competition at next week's Wells Fargo Championship, according to multiple Golf Channel sources. The news of Woods' participation was first reported Thursday on "Golf Central."

Woods has not played since a T-32 finish at the Masters. A winner at Quail Hollow in 2007, Woods has not made the cut there since a fourth-place showing in 2009 and has not played Wells Fargo since 2012. He missed last year's PGA Championship at Quail Hollow because of injury.

Woods has until 5 p.m. ET Friday to officially commit to next week's field. When reached for comment by GolfChannel.com, Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg, explained that Woods' plans were not yet finalized.

"We don't know right now (if Woods will play)," Steinberg said. "We'll know later this afternoon. We're working on a couple things."

A trip to Charlotte would be another sign that the 42-year-old is ready to return to a customary schedule, as next week's event would be followed by Woods' expected return to The Players for the first time since 2015. Woods has already committed to the U.S. Open, which will mark the 10-year anniversary of his last major victory.

After starting the year ranked No. 656 in the world, Woods is up to No. 91 in the latest world rankings. He recorded three straight top-12 finishes during the Florida swing, including a runner-up finish alongside Patrick Reed at the Valspar Championship and a T-5 finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

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USGA receives more than 9,000 U.S. Open entries

By Will GrayApril 26, 2018, 4:31 pm

The field of contestants for golf's most democratic major has been set.

The USGA announced that it received 9,049 entries for this year's U.S. Open, with the deadline for entry expiring at 5 p.m. ET Wednesday. That total includes 515 applications on the final day, 115 in the final hour and a buzzer-beater from Drew Caudill, a 32-year-old pro from Mount Vernon, Ohio, who beat the entry deadline by only 23 seconds.

This marks the seventh straight year that the USGA has received more than 9,000 entries, but the total marks the second straight year of a decline in applications. At least 9,860 players entered each year from 2013-16, topping out in 2014 when 10,127 applications were received. But last year there were 9,485 entries for Erin Hills, and this year's return to Shinnecock yielded only one more application than the USGA got in 2005.

For the vast majority of entrants, the next step is a spot in 18-hole local qualifying which begins April 30 and runs through May 17. The fortunate few advance from there to 36-hole sectional qualifiers, played May 21 in Japan and June 4 across 11 other sites in the U.S. and England.

A total of 54 players are already exempt into the 156-man field, including 12 former winners. The only remaining ways to earn an exemption from qualifying are to win either The Players or BMW PGA Championship next month, or be ranked inside the top 60 in the Official World Golf Rankings on either May 21 or June 11.

The U.S. Open will be played June 14-17 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y., which is hosting the event for the first time since 2004.

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Report: Houston Open may move to Memorial Park in '19

By Will GrayApril 26, 2018, 3:48 pm

Still without a permanent spot on the PGA Tour schedule, the Houston Open appears to be on the move.

According to a report from the Houston Business Journal, there is a proposal in place to shift the tournament downtown in 2019, returning to Memorial Park Golf Course which previously hosted the event from 1951-1963.

While formal relocation plans have not been announced, the tournament officially reached the end of an era this week when the Golf Club of Houston, which has hosted the event since 2003, informed the Houston Golf Association that it would no longer serve as tournament host moving forward.

"We received notice this week from the Golf Club of Houston regarding the club's decision to no longer host a PGA Tour event," read an HGA statement obtained by GolfChannel.com. "Currently, the HGA's focus is on securing a long-term title sponsor. The Golf Club of Houston has been a great venue for the Houston Open dating back to 2003 and we look forward to maintaining a great relationship with the club."

Such a move would be a win for Houston mayor Sylvester Turner, who has expressed an interest in returning the tournament within city limits. The Golf Club of Houston is located in Humble, a suburb 20 miles northeast of downtown.

"This move would place the tournament on center stage in downtown Houston, creating a central location for the city to rally around," read marketing materials cited in the Business Journal report. "Houston Proud Partners of the Houston Open would have the opportunity to collaborate with the Houston Golf Association on this historic move and make a lasting statement that would be seen for generations."

The Houston Open's lineage dates back to 1946, but its future remains in question. Shell Oil ended its 26-year sponsorship of the event in 2017, and this year it was played without a title sponsor and financed in part by the HGA.

The tournament has also carved out a niche with its pre-Masters slot on the schedule, where it has been played every year but once since the advent of the FedExCup in 2007. But next year that coveted position will go to the Valero Texas Open, leaving Houston's place on a revamped 2019 schedule in question.

The Houston Open remains one of only two tournaments on the current Tour calendar without a title sponsor. Earlier this week Charles Schwab signed a four-year deal to sponsor the Fort Worth Invitational beginning in 2019, and a report this week indicates the other unsponsored event, The National, may be on the verge of moving from the Washington, D.C. area to Detroit.