These are the numbers:
_ Woods led the league with five wins. He won the money title by over $2 million. He won the Vardon Trophy for lowest adjusted scoring average.
_ Scott won the Masters and The Barclays, which arguably has the strongest field in golf. He finished in the top 5 at two other majors.
_ Mickelson won the British Open and the Phoenix Open. He was runner-up in the U.S. Open.
Stenson also is on the ballot with two FedEx Cup playoff wins and the trophy itself (along with the $10 million bonus). He finished in the top 3 at two other majors. Two great wins and zero majors don’t cut it. Matt Kuchar is also on the ballot, but only for balance. He had his best year ever with two wins. That will have to do.
Adding pictures to the scorecard is the only thing that could change the vote.
Mickelson came within in a dimple of 59 in the Phoenix Open. He had the lead on the back nine at Merion and was runner-up at the U.S. Open for the sixth time. He bounced back to win the British Open _ the major not even Mickelson thought he could win _ with what his peers consider one of the greatest closing rounds in a major. It left him one leg short of the Grand Slam, though winning on a links course already defines him as a complete player even without a U.S. Open.
Scott became the first Aussie in a green jacket and he was leading the British Open on the back nine until making four straight bogeys. He was poised for a run at the Tour Championship until getting sick at the wrong time.
Both are great stories. But did they have better years?
Here are a few things to keep in mind. This is a vote of the players, and there’s no telling how they define the award. Best player or best year? Do they have an agenda? Is it a popularity contest? Still baffling is Rickie Fowler winning rookie of the year in 2010 over Rory McIlroy, even though McIlroy won at Quail Hollow, Fowler didn’t win at all and neither reached the Tour Championship.
Is it a sentimental pick for Mickelson, the greatest to have never won player of the year? Is there resentment toward Woods for how he handled the penalty given to him at Conway Farms for his ball moving?
The tour won’t release results, only a winner. And it won’t reveal voter turnout. Most of these guys only pay attention to their tee times.
One final thought as it relates to Woods: If his record this year belonged to any other player, would this even be a debate?