Tiger Woods is PGA player of the year; Tour honors next?

Sam Greenwood

Tiger Woods finished with a flourish at East Lake after a rough start to the FedExCup finale, in which the world No. 1 ended up T22 but the likely winner of the PGA Tour’s player of the year award.

Tiger Woods wrapped up a "really good" 2013 season atop the world rankings, earned enough points to capture the PGA of America’s player of the year award, and, most important, won a hug from his mini-me daughter Sam after tapping in for a T22 finish at the Tour Championship.

Woods chalked up five tour victories in 16 official events and remains the favorite to win the Tour’s Player of the Year honors, despite ending his fifth straight campaign without a major championship. In addition to chalking up 100 points -- 10 apiece for his Farmers Insurance Open, WGC-Cadillac Championship, Arnold Palmer Invitational, and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational wins, 20 for The Players Championship, and 20 points each for banking the most prize money ($8.5 million) and recording the lowest adjusted stroke average (68.985) -- Woods leads in early returns among the five golfers vying to become the Tour’s player of the year.

The PGA’s honor was the 11th for Woods, who went low in scoring average for the ninth time, though this year marked the first occasion he has achieved either feat since 2009. His final-round 3-under 67 in the FedExCup playoff finale at East Lake was too-little/too-late to get Woods into contention for the season-ending tourney after he got off to a birdie-less 73 start and closed at even-par -- 13 strokes back of East Lake and FedExCup winner Henrik Stenson.

Even with a an ugly beginning to what ended up as his poorest performance on the Atlanta track, Woods finished second in the FedExCup to Stenson. He earned a cool $3 million and that endearing embrace from Sam, who joined brother, Charlie, and Woods’ girlfriend, Lindsey Vonn, inside the ropes last week.

With the Tour set to announce the results of peer voting for player of the year on Friday, Stenson, Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar round out the handful of nominees up for the Jack Nicklaus award, which Woods has won 10 times. If the accolades went to the player of the half-year, Stenson’s five top-three results, including two playoff wins, in his last seven contests would likely put him over the top.

The two players with the best chances of pulling an upset, however, are Mickelson and Scott, though Tiger’s five triumphs overall will, no doubt, trump Lefty’s spectacular British Open win and the first Masters conquest by an Australian.

"I had five wins this year. So I think that's a pretty good year." -Tiger Woods

"Very satisfied," Woods told reporters about his season. "Well, look at the fact that I had five wins this year. So I think that's a pretty good year."

Maybe not Tiger Woods, circa 2000 good, but good enough for a tired old man of 37 with a bad back who "ran out of gas" down the stretch of the second round in Atlanta, when he went double-bogey, bogey, triple-bogey in his last five holes.

"There are days I just don't have it," said Woods, whose work schedule had him playing in seven of the last 10 weeks. "Game doesn't feel right. Body doesn't feel right. Things just don't work. But I still grind it out and post some numbers."

Next up for Woods is collecting the PoY trophy during a week off, following which he’ll play in his eighth Presidents Cup competition at Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village. He’ll travel to China for an exhibition rematch with Rory McIlroy on October 28 and will help the European Tour kick off its inaugural Turkish Airlines Open from November 7-November 10.

Woods will finish his year by playing host at the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, from December 5-December 8 at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

"We're going to take the week off and kind of recoup and recover, get ready for the Presidents Cup, and then basically assess the year and what we need to work on in the offseason," Woods said.

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