Tiger Woods has already won the PGA of America Player of the Year and with good reason. Tiger managed 5 wins on tour this year and reclaimed his number one spot in the world. Let’s not give the barn away so easily though. Tiger didn’t really add anything of consequence to his mansion size trophy case (except Lindsey Vonn but that’s a different story). There are many great candidates for golf’s overall player of the year. We had 4 separate major winners none of which were named Tiger Woods and a surprise FedEx cup winner. There were also a few glaring omissions from this years candidates. Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald seemed to both disappear into mediocrity. The sport needs these two gentlemen to play well if it wants to increase its market share. Luckily, there were some names that climbed up to fill the void.
Tiger is an obvious selection to win Golfer of the Year. Inside the regular PGA season, Tiger Woods was by far the best player on Tour. He won 5 events and finished with numerous top 5 finishes. Not only was this great for Tiger, it was great for golf. Tiger being in contention week in and week out added excitement to the game that was missing in his absence. Love him or hate him, people tune in to watch his ups and downs, and there were both this year. Tiger made every cut in this year’s Major Tournaments but failed to be relevant on most Sundays. There was also a sprinkle of controversy related to a few of his more generous drops, one of which should’ve gotten him disqualified from the Masters. However, just a few fortunate bounces and Tiger would’ve had one of the best years of his career.
Australia and Adam both breathed a collective sigh of relief when the Aussie sank his playoff winning putt down in Augusta. This unbridled joy was the antithesis of the devastation that was plastered onto Adam’s face after imploding at the Open the previous year. His win not only ended a long Australian drought at the Masters but finally gave Adam a long awaited major victory. Great things were expected of the Aussie when he won the Players a few years back but his career was left wanting. However, this year with two wins on tour, Adam has climbed to the number 2 player in the world and a viable contender for player of the year.
I once heard that watching Phil play golf was like watching a drunk chase a balloon on the side of a cliff. This year embodied that saying. With just as many cuts as wins, Phil had a roller coaster of a season. He wouldn’t trade it away for the world though. Phil finally got his hands on a Claret Jug and jumped one step closer to his career grand slam. His quest was almost complete, but Phil fell short in yet another US open being outdone by a sensational performance by Justin Rose. Setting that aside, Phil climbed from 19th to 4th in the World Golf Rankings. He is the best Left Handed player of all time but is he our golfer of the year?
Stenson lacks a major championship this year but does have two significant trophies to add to his case. Following Luke Donald’s impressive performance on both sides of the pond last year, the Swede became the first player to win both the FedEx Cup and the Race to Dubai in the same year. Henrik also jumped an incredible 50 spots from 53rd to 3rd in the World Golf rankings. This was due to Stenson’s incredible performances in majors where he managed to finish inside the top 20 except for 1 (he finished 21st at the US open). With his performance worldwide, Stenson is most certainly the most consistent player in the world.
So who wins our Golfer of the Year? Tiger, Phil and Adam are all popular choices partly because of their long standing success on tour. If you ask Tiger though, he would not be content with the year he had. If the year was a failure in his eyes, it cannot be a success in ours. While Phil and Adam both accomplished lifelong goals, they relatively disappeared at times this year. What Henrik Stenson did this year is unreal. He accomplished something significant that had never been done in golf. In a sport that is characterized by streaks, the Swede powered through both here in the States and in Europe. Henrik deserves the golfer of the year and I’m very excited about his 2014.