Is Tiger Woods the PGA Tour's Comeback Player of the Year?

Fred AltvaterContributor IINovember 14, 2012

Both Ernie Els and Tiger Woods had big Comeback Years in 2012
Both Ernie Els and Tiger Woods had big Comeback Years in 2012Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The PGA Tour’s Comeback Player of the Year award first started in 1991, and players such as Steve Jones, Steve Pate and Paul Azinger have won the award over the years.

Steve Stricker even won Comeback Player of the Year consecutive years in 2006 and 2007.

Officially, the award is given to a player who through courage and perseverance has overcome extraordinary adversity, such as a personal tragedy or debilitating illness, to make a significant and meaningful contribution to the game of golf.

PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem and the four players on the PGA Tour policy board decide if someone is worthy.

Here are some names that they may want to consider before deciding whether or not to hand out the award this year.


J.B. Holmes

J.B. Holmes was forced to withdraw from the 2011 PGA Championship with a severe case of vertigo. Doctors diagnosed a rare brain disorder that required surgery on Sept. 1. He experienced complications from the plate that had been placed in his skull and had to undergo a second surgery in Baltimore in October.

Despite this, he was able to resume practice at the end of December and made his 2012 PGA Tour debut at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in February.

Holmes missed two cuts in his first three events in 2012. He did finish the year with two top-10 finishes, won over $1.1 million and finished No. 82 on the FedEx Cup standings.

They say golfers must shut off their brain to play well, but J.B. Holmes has proven that you can play well even if you have your brain worked on.


Ernie Els

In 2011, Els missed six cuts, only had one top-10 ranking and finished No. 118 in the FedEx Cup with earnings of less than $1 million. Putting problems, off-course philanthropic efforts and family seemed to dominate his time. Practice and his golf game took a back seat.

Ernie made a huge turnaround in 2012. He began the year ineligible to play at the Masters for the first time since 1993. He made a valiant push to win prior to the Masters and had two near misses at the Transitions Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Putting problems again came to the forefront and kept the Big Easy out of the winner's circle and the Masters.

All of the hard work that he had put in at the beginning of the year paid off handsomely with a runner-up at the Zurich Classic, where he lost in a playoff to Jason Dufner. 

The big reward came when he won the fourth major title of his career, collecting his second Claret Jug at Royal Lytham in July.

He finished the year with five top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour, won over $3.4 million and finished No. 11 in the FedEx Cup. He also improved from outside the Top 50 in the world at the beginning of the year to No. 20 currently.  

Ernie has reestablished himself as a person of interest every time he tees it up.


Tiger Woods

Tiger missed four months in 2011 with an Achilles injury. He had been struggling with personal problems and swing changes for over two years. He had slipped outside the Top 50 in the world at the end of 2011 and finished outside the Top 125 on the PGA Tour for the first time in his career.

In 2012, he came back with a vengeance. He garnered three PGA Tour wins and was a factor in nearly every event that he entered. The Tiger fist pump was back, and he was a force to be reckoned with.

He ended the year No. 3 on the FedEx Cup rankings and No. 2 on the Official World Golf Rankings.

Tiger failed to win a major in 2012 but was in contention and appears to be getting ever closer to resuming his chase for 19 major championship titles.

All three of these men seem to be good candidates for the PGA Tour’s Comeback Player of the Year award.

Wonder what Tim Finchem and the policy board think?