There are, or should be, two Player of the Year Awards.
The standard award goes to the PGA Tour Player of the Year. Notice the modifier. This year, Tiger Woods won it again on the strength of his five win season, which included victories at his usual haunts – Torrey Pines, Doral, Bay Hill, and Firestone, and a W at The Players, which was arguably his most impressive win because he has struggled on TPC Sawgrass (he was 1 win in 15 starts prior to 2013).
So, Woods is the PGA Tour’s POY, but would he be simply the Player of the Year if the award was based on a player’s complete season, and if it gave due credit to wins and close finishes in the majors? I think not.
If you asked Woods whose season he would rather have had, his or Phil Mickelson’s, it would take him a quarter second to utter Phil’s name. The reason: a major title, and a strong second in another, which counts among those sensible analysts who believe that second it better than 32t, which is where Tiger finished at the U.S. Open, the one that Phil lost by two shots to Justin Rose.
On the PGA Tour, Woods won five times and was second once in 16 starts, and finished in the top 10 eight times. In his lone appearance overseas (other than the British Open) he missed the cut at Abu Dhabi.
Mickelson won twice on the PGA Tour, including a major, and won his only other start overseas at the Scottish Open, which preceded his win at the Open. This gave him wins in consecutive weeks, something that Tiger did not accomplish. Mickelson registered six top threes (not counting the Scottish Open) to Woods’ six.
Tiger vs. Phil in the Majors
Woods – Mickelson
M—-4t —- 54t
Again, the big point in Woods’ favor was that he won five times on THE PGA TOUR. Still, but he would take Mickelson’s year in a heartbeat because 1) he would have ended his five year drought in the majors, 2) pulled to within three majors of Nicklaus, 3) passed Nicklaus in career British Open titles with four, 4) added a second in the U.S. Open to his resume, 4) come to within a U.S. Open title of winning a fourth Career Grand Slam, and 5) been able to tell the writers “I told you so,” something he relishes more than just about anything else.
So, who really is the Player of the Year? If you put Woods on truth serum, his answer would be Phil Mickelson!