Last season provided a real, legitimate debate over the PGA Tour's Player of the Year honor and what criteria should go into evaluating the candidates. This seems to be an annual exercise in all the major sports, but golf's award has defaulted to Tiger Woods so many times that there's rarely debate and, unintentionally, the award loses a bit of publicity and importance.
The three leading candidates for the PGA Tour Player of the Year were Tiger, Phil Mickelson, and Adam Scott (Henrik Stenson also made a late push). We profiled each just before the Tour made the official announcement that Tiger had won his 11th PGA Tour Player of the Year award. In the end, Tiger's five wins, as opposed to one major championship, made the more compelling case for his Tour peers, who did the voting. There were five other players who won more than once on Tour, but all of those golfers picked up only two wins. Tiger was back to being dominant, just not at the majors.
One of the five players who picked up multiple victories in 2013 was Adam Scott. The Aussie's victories also came at two of the season's bigger events -- The Masters (the biggest of them all), and the opening leg of the FedExCup playoffs in New York City. Scott also had the strongest majors season, contending at both the British and PGA. At one point or another on the weekend, he was the favorite at those events.
Scott's 2013 resume (also Mickelson's) could certainly stand up to Tiger's in a PoY debate -- it was just a matter of what the voter valued more. Were Tiger's five wins greater than one major win? There's no set voting criteria, so the nebulous standards yield a somewhat silly exercise. But the debate, whether it's a good thing or not, at least adds some intrigue, where there is little, to the end of the golf calendar year.
While the PGA Tour honor was awarded just after the end of the 2013 season in late September, Scott continued his calendar year by dominating the triple crown of Australian tournaments. After winning the Australian Masters and Australian PGA Championship, Scott's attempt at the triple crown was extinguished in the final moments by a Rory McIlroy putt at the Australian Open. The three-tournament form in just a month's time solidified Scott's status alongside Tiger in the world rankings heading into 2014.
Scott keeps a bit of a different schedule than the regular touring pros. In addition to run in Australia at those three tourneys, he also won the four-man PGA Grand Slam event and teamed with Jason Day to win the World Cup at Royal Melbourne. While Tiger collected appearance fee cash, went skiing, and rested with his kids, Scott continued to dominate golf through the final two months of the year. It was enough to push him within shouting distance of Tiger and the No. 1 ranking in the world, which seemed impossible at the end of the summer.
The career year, and start to a new one, added another piece of distinction on Thursday when the Golf Writers Association of America voted Scott their Player of the Year over Woods by a narrow five votes (out of 218). Inbee Park won the ladies' award, and Kenny Perry won the senior award in two run away votes.
It was a convincing finish to the year for Scott, and after playing in Hawaii to start the American tour's 2014 season, he'll largely disappear for a couple months before the Florida swing in early March and a defense at the Masters. But this week's honor could be first of multiple PoY campaigns for the man with the best swing on the planet.