December 4, 2013
Awards come early
Don’t know about you, but having Player of the Year and those other Year-style awards decided and announced three months before Santa returns to the North Pole has been disconcertingly irritating.
Of course most calendar reform is slow. The one we use nowadays was first proposed by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 but took until 1752 to be more or less universally adopted. So I suppose I should have a little more patience with the PGA Tour’s decision to stay with old nomenclature, although what we really now have is Player of the Season.
No matter how it’s titled however, the PGA Tour’s top honor once again went to Tiger Woods, the 11th occasion the 37-year old has been voted number one by his peers, this time for a five-victory season in sixteen starts, albeit without a major title.
The Tour does not provide voter breakdown so we don’t know how close contenders Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson or Adam Scott came to Woods’ ballot winning total but it was obvious that Mickelson’s British Open victory needed to be bookended by something very significant in the FedEx Cup playoff section to edge Woods’ five, which included that “almost-major” Players victory in May.
Masters winner Adam Scott was in much the same need come Atlanta but he too, as a result of flu-like symptoms he developed on Saturday which required intravenous fluid treatment, was a long way from top form in the season finale. However, albeit without ballot-box facts, some believe votes split sentimentally between Mickelson and Scott was the real reason Woods came out ahead.
Others also mused if Woods’ four separate rules incidents this year, the latest at the BMW where he was penalized two strokes for improperly causing his ball to move but continued to argue against the penalty even after being shown definitive close-up video evidence of the infraction, might affect voting-players’ opinion.
Rookie of the Year went unreservedly to Texan Jordan Speith, the 20-year old who turned pro less than a year ago and started 2013 without any PGA Tour status, but by June had become the circuit’s youngest winner since 1931.
That John Deere Classic victory not only got him into the FedEx Cup race but allowed him to claim back-points, then continue his amazing run for nine top-10 finishes in twenty-three starts, including runner-up spots in Puerto Rico, the Wyndham (in playoff) and the Tour Championship. In the past nine months he’s risen from basically nowhere in the World Golf Rankings to 21st and was also given a Captain’s Pick for next week’s Presidents Cup.
In other awards news the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews announced that former club secretary and past-Captain, Sir Michael Bonallack, has become the club’s 16th Honorary Member, a special group that includes Roberto De Vicenzo. During a hugely successful amateur career Bonallack won both the British Amateur Championship and the English Amateur Championship five times, plus the English Amateur Stroke Play title on four occasions.