Player of Year debate goes to final week

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Player of Year debate goes to final week

WHO’S PLAYER OF THE YEAR?

TIGER WOODS

Argument for: His five PGA victories this year are more than double anyone else’s. No. 1 in stroke average and money winnings. Won an almost-major, the Players Championship.

Argument against: By the inflated standards he has set, it is all about the majors, and his drought is five years and counting.

ADAM SCOTT

Argument for: His breakthrough at the Masters was the beginning of the most consistent performance across the board in the majors. Had the best aggregate score in the big four tournaments of anyone (2 over par), with top-five finishes in three of the four. Also won a FedEx playoff event, the Barclays.

Argument against: It is all about the majors with him. Played a limited schedule, 15 events, the same as Woods, but without the success.

PHIL MICKELSON

Argument for: Winner of the British Open and runner-up at the U.S. Open. Won the Waste Management Open in Arizona.

Argument against: Missed three cuts this year (Woods, Scott and Kuchar missed none). Stroke average is the highest of those four. Would be no debate had he prevailed at the U.S. Open.

MATT KUCHAR

Argument for: Had his first multiple-win season, in high-quality events – the World Match Play and the Memorial. Seventh on Tour in stroke average and had eight top-10 finishes.

Argument against: Disappeared in the majors, his lone top-10 finish an eighth at the Masters.

There is no end to East Lake’s potential bounty. Atop a sizable mound of money, there also is a hefty chunk of prestige at stake at this week’s Tour Championship.

“There’s so much to play for,” Adam Scott said. “Two trophies here this week (the FedEx Cup and Tour Championship), and also potentially throwing my name in a Player of the Year debate.” He delicately did not mention the $10 million Cup bonus he could claim.

There is no absolute lock for the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year award. The players will cast their votes after the Tour Championship (with the winner announced in early October), giving the candidates one last opportunity to state their case on the course. Conceivably, a big winner this weekend could swing the vote his way.

As it stands, the debate centers on that age-old rivalry of quantity vs. quality.

Tiger Woods has on his side five PGA Tour victories. No one else has more than two.

And: “I’d like to get a sixth win, how about that?” Woods said. Should he win the Tour Championship, all arguments cease.

Ah, but then there are a couple players with a major championship among their two victories — Scott and Phil Mickelson — who may cite the greater heft of their trophies. Should either win here, that certainly would make for a more persuasive argument.

“I really need to win to even throw my name in the hat there. Then it could be possible,” Scott said.

What about a scenario in which he didn’t win this tournament, but still won the FedEx Cup? “I think winning (the tournament) is a big thing. That carries a lot of weight,” Scott said.

If neither Scott nor Mickelson win here, Woods’ POY position would seem secure. As one of the voters put it, five wins of any stripe are difficult to ignore.

“We have some pretty phenomenal, star-studded tournaments. So winning would be my barometer because it’s so hard,” Zach Johnson said.

Scott and Mickelson have never won player of the year. Woods has — 10 times. And he doesn’t sound blase about it.

“The Player of the Year award is something we hold dear because it’s the respect of our peers. Having a year where they think that you were deserving of Player of the Year is pretty special. I’ve had my years over the course of my career, and hopefully this will be another one.”

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