ATLANTA – Tiger Woods always has been measured against Jack Nicklaus and his 18 majors, and most recently Sam Snead and his 82 PGA Tour victories.
Now he’s being measured against himself.
And it’s not a fair fight.
The PGA Tour sent out its awards ballot Monday to those players eligible to vote. The winners are to be announced Friday.
Woods should be a lock for player of the year, provided he is measured against the other four names on the ballot instead of the previous seasons when he won the award.
He won five times this year, and the only tournament that could be classified as a medium-strength field was at Torrey Pines. Woods won two World Golf Championships, at Doral and Firestone. He won The Players Championship on perhaps his least favorite course on tour. And he won Bay Hill.
The world ranking points he earned from those five wins alone were more than any player has earned all year except for Henrik Stenson.
But he didn’t win a major, the very standard by which Woods measures a great season.
Woods already has won the award 10 times. His record this year is worse than every season he won the award except 2003. So this has been a great season by any other comparison except with himself.
One of the more famous sayings in golf is that the scorecard has only a number, not pictures.
These are the numbers:
Woods led the league with five wins. He won the money title by more than $2 million. He won the Vardon Trophy for lowest adjusted scoring average.
Adam Scott won the Masters and The Barclays, which arguably has the strongest field in golf. He finished in the top 5 at two other majors.
Phil Mickelson won the British Open and the Phoenix Open. He was runner-up in the U.S. Open.
Stenson also is on the ballot with two FedEx Cup playoff wins and the trophy itself (along with the $10 million bonus). He finished in the top 3 at two majors. Two great wins and zero majors don’t cut it. Matt Kuchar is also on the ballot, but only for balance. He had his best year ever with two wins. That will have to do.
Here are a few things to keep in mind. This is a vote of the players, and there’s no telling how they define the award. Best player or best year? Do they have an agenda?
Is it a sentimental pick for Mickelson, the greatest to have never won player of the year? Is there resentment toward Woods for how he handled the penalty given to him at Conway Farms for his ball moving?
The tour won’t release results, only a winner. And it won’t reveal voter turnout. Most of these guys only pay attention to their tee times.
One final thought as it relates to Woods: If his record this year belonged to any other player, would this even be a debate?