2013 Player of the Year Race Intensifies After Adam Scott Wins The Barclays

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistAugust 25, 2013

No. 2 with a bullet.

That's where Adam Scott stands in the World Golf Rankings after pulling off a remarkable victory at The Barclays Sunday in Jersey City, N.J., the first of the FedEx Cup playoff tournaments.

Scott was just an also-ran at Liberty National Golf Course when the final round began. He was stuck in a large pack of near-contenders at six under par. Matt Kuchar and Gary Woodland held the lead at 12 under, and it seemed like one of those two players (or Kevin Chappell at 11 under) had the best chance to win.

But Scott wasn't focused on the idea of winning when he teed off; he just wanted to continue to play well and perhaps make a few putts.

That's just what happened. He made five birdies, and the rest of his card was clean. He did not have a single bogey. In pulling off the victory, Scott put himself in prime contention for PGA Player of the Year honors.

The 33-year-old Australian has had a tremendous year, starting with his defeat of Angel Cabrera in a playoff to win the Masters in April. While that was Scott's only victory until his come-from-behind effort at The Barclays, he asserted himself with his performances in the majors.

After his victory at Augusta, Scott did not distinguish himself at the U.S. Open, finishing in a tie for 45th at Merion. However, he was in the hunt at the British Open (tied for third) and then closed out the major season by tying for fifth in the PGA Championship.

Scott's win at The Barclays may have put him in the lead for the honor. When you win a major, contend in two others and win a playoff event, your resume looks pretty good.

He is clearly quite proud of the season he has enjoyed.

Adam Scott said he'd rather have his green jacket than 5 Tour wins; now he's got a major and a FedEX win. "I didn't think I had a chance."

— Robert Lusetich (@RobertLusetich) August 25, 2013

But there are three other prime contenders who may top Scott. Tiger Woods is one of them, and he is the only contender who has not won a major. Here's a look at the 2013 golf resumes of all four favorites, along with their approximate earnings. 

PlayerTournaments WonMoney Earned
FedEx Cup Points
Adam Scott2$4.6 million3,847 (2nd)
Tiger Woods5$8.2 million4,009 (1st)
Phil Mickelson2*$5.2 million2,624 (3rd)
Justin Rose1$3.7 million2,397 (5th)

*Also won the European Tour's Scottish Open

Even though Woods was 0-for-4 in the majors this year and played poorly in the U.S. Open and the PGA, he has won five tournaments. No other golfer has won more than two official events this year. Woods also leads the tour in FedEx Cup points this season and tops the money list.

If Tiger had won a major this year, he would almost certainly be a lock for the honor. But he hasn't. Still, he has won three more tournaments than anyone else, and that should count for something.

It seems Woods has an uphill climb for the award. He may have a hard time getting past Scott or Phil Mickelson.

Lefty has had a memorable season. His victory in the British Open is seen as one of the best and most dramatic triumphs of the year. He shot a 66 in the final round at Muirfield and made every shot he needed to while others collapsed under the pressure.

Mickelson had a collapsing moment of his own, however. He was leading in the U.S. Open in the final round, but he could not hold it together down the stretch, eventually settling for a share of second place.

He did not contend in the Masters or the PGA Championship, but Mickelson won the Waste Management Phoenix Open early in the season and also won the Scottish Open the week before he took home the Claret Jug.

Justin Rose had his dominant moment when he won the U.S. Open. He came through at Merion with a 70 in the final round, and his one-over 281 demonstrated his ability to keep his cool in the most important moments.

He nearly pushed Scott to a playoff in The Barclays, but he bogeyed the 72nd hole and finished in a tie for second with Woods, Gary Woodland and Graham DeLaet. That loss could hurt Rose in the Player of the Year race, much like Mickelson's loss in the U.S. Open could hurt him. Great players execute when they have a chance to win.

Of course, the top tour pros won't let anyone dominate every week. But when you look at this year's body of work, Adam Scott seems to have asserted himself more than anyone else to this point.

Woods backers can make a cogent argument of their own, but it's one that is made without passion. Woods wants majors, and he judges himself based on that one main area. He has had a sensational year, but he is not the PGA Player of the Year.

After the first round of the FedEx Cup playoffs, Scott is in the driver's seat for that honor.

Liberty National Golf Course
Scott has had a tremendous year
the 33-year-old Australian has had a tremendous year