Like the equivalent MVP award in most sports, there is no set criteria for defining the PGA Tour's Player of the Year. The players vote for their peers, but there are no guidelines for how to vote or what should matter most, so it can be a nebulous process when there's no clear candidate. In the Tiger Woods era, this hasn't been much of a problem, as he's almost always the unanimous Player of the Year. But in 2013, a year in which Tiger won five times, Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson can both claim, with varying degrees of legitimacy, they should get a majority of PoY votes.
The debate over which one of those three should be honored as PoY has been ongoing for almost two months now, and there's still no clear-cut resolution. That's because each media member and player has his or her own way of weighting the accomplishments. Many would argue that Woods is the runaway winner, his five victories and money title lapping the field and next closest candidate. And just as many might argue that Woods is automatically out of the running because he did not win a major, the most important box on a PoY checklist.
If majors are the biggest and most important events in golf, and the No. 1 criteria in judging a Player of the Year candidate, then Adam Scott should win the honor. Scott was the most consistent player at all the biggest events this season. It crescendoed early for Scott at The Masters, where his talent finally came through on a Sunday at a major and the Aussie curse at Augusta was broken. Scott's putt at No. 18 in regulation and then again on No. 10 in the playoff with Angel Cabrera should be memorialized as two of the greatest strokes in the history of the tournament. The leaderboard was loaded with big names, and it was Scott who steadied the nerves that had prevented his late Sunday chances the previous two years at Augusta. This was not an easy win, and he was not the beneficiary of another's misfortune or error.
That was obviously the high mark of his season and his career, but his form continued at the other majors later in the summer. If the majors are what matter most in this vote, Scott had the best overall majors performance across all four tournaments.
After a middling result at the U.S. Open at Merion, Scott began Sunday at the British Open and the PGA Championship as a favorite, starting at or near the top of the leaderboard and in one of the final groups of the day. Tiger contended at the majors this year, and Phil won one with the round of the year, but neither was right there and in it on the final day consistently like Scott. The Aussie ended the year with a win, a T3 finish, and 5th place finish at three of the four majors. If that's how you want to weight your vote, then Scott is the choice.
But maybe you assign weight only to major wins, and not overall performance and contention, like Sports Illustrated's Alan Shipnuck:
Shipnuck's point is valid, but he's probably in the minority and Scott's repeated showing across all four majors will sway a lot of voters. Simply, he played better golf the most amount of time and the most important events.
That majors success, however, would not have been enough for Scott's candidacy. The Aussie legitimately joined the race with Phil and Tiger just last month, when he added his second win of the year by taking the first leg of the FedExCup. Scott came from nowhere on Sunday at Liberty National, winning the Barclays in relative TV obscurity as all the players behind him, including Woods, collapsed.
The final month finish may add more votes in Scott's column too, as both Woods and Phil stumbled during the FedExCup playoffs while Scott battled Henrik Stenson to the weekend at the season's final event. He finished with six top 10s and ended up sixth overall on the money list. Even with the impending anchored putting ban, there will be more wins in the future for the player considered to have the best swing in the game. But in the instant, that wire-to-wire consistency in 2013 should deliver Scott his first ever Player of the Year, beating out the two biggest golf superstars of this generation.