Woods said again Wednesday at The Barclays this already has been a great season, and it’s difficult to argue. His five wins – including two World Golf Championships and The Players Championship – are three more than anyone else on the PGA Tour.
He is leading all the right indicators, such as the Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average, the money list ($2.6 million more than anyone else) and the No. 1 seed going into the FedEx Cup playoffs that start today.
The standard for Woods, however, always has been the majors, and he was shut out for the fifth consecutive year.
“His lack of winning a major is the only thing talked about, which I think is sad,” Bill Haas said. “I think it’s ignorant. But that’s what we are basing his year on. He may even say, ‘Oh, I’m disappointed because I didn’t win a major.’ But he’s not winning the smaller events. He’s winning the WGCs and Bay Hill. And yes, it makes what he’s doing that much more impressive, absolutely.”
Woods is stuck on 14 majors, leaving him four short of the Nicklaus standard.
The five wins this year, after three wins in 2012, has put him at 79 career wins, moving him closer to Snead’s record 82 wins on the PGA Tour.
Adam Scott, whose lone victory came in the Masters Tournament, was asked if he would trade seasons with Woods.
“I’d rather have mine, that’s for sure,” Scott said. “He may want mine. I mean, No. 15 is proving to be difficult for him, so that would have given him that. But they’ve all got to get tougher the more you get.”
Woods is facing one of the toughest fields in the year featuring the top 125 players on the PGA Tour, some of whom are desperate to go as far as they can in these lucrative FedEx Cup playoffs. Only the top 100 advance next week to the Deutsche Bank Championship.
McIlroy has an easier time defining his season to date. It hasn’t been very good. He jokes with caddie J.P. Fitzgerald that he effectively has taken six months off, and now it’s time to get to work.
The good news for the 24-year-old from Northern Ireland is that golf is starting to feel more like play than work again.
He was swinging free during his pro-am, finally comfortable with his driver and launching them high and relatively straight. McIlroy feels like he turned the corner at Firestone a few weeks ago, and he rallied at Oak Hill to at least flirt with contention for the first time in a major.
A year ago, McIlroy won consecutive playoff events, tied for 10th at the Tour Championship and Brandt Snedeker walked off with the FedEx Cup and the $10 million prize.
“Maybe it will be the other way around,” McIlroy said. “That’s the beauty of it. You look at basketball, baseball, football. Teams squeeze in and make a great playoff run and win. I’m in that position where I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.”