Odds for 2013 PGA Tour Player of the Year After the FedEx Cup

James McMahonContributor ISeptember 24, 2013

Odds for 2013 PGA Tour Player of the Year After the FedEx Cup

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    And then there were five.

    The PGA Tour announced on Monday the final five candidates for Player of the Year honors and will reveal the winner of the coveted award on Friday.

    As a surprise to few, Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson are the headliners in a race that promises to be one of the closest in recent memory.

    The voting PGA Tour rank and file will also have the opportunity to name two-time winner Matt Kuchar as Player of the Year, but that would be a significant surprise given the resume of the other four golfers he’s being judged against.

    Woods will rest his argument on five quality victories, a ninth Vardon Trophy for lowest stroke average and yet another money title. Mickelson and Scott will counter with their significant victories at the Open Championship and Masters respectively.

    For his part, Stenson will let his FedEx Cup championship and his two victories in the final three tournaments of the season do the talking for him.

    Truth is, each of those four golfers make strong cases for being named PGA Tour Player of the Year. Yet only one of them will win it when the votes are tallied and the golfers are heard later this week.

    Here’s a look at our odds for the final five golfers as we await the identity of the player who will be deemed to have had the best of it in 2013.

Matt Kuchar: 25-to-1

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    Making His Case

    Kuchar didn't just win twice on the PGA Tour, he captured two of the more significant events on the calendar.

    The popular American opened the season strong with a victory at the World Golf Championship-Accenture Match Play Championship back in February and then added a win at the Memorial Tournament back in May.

    In addition to those victories, Kuchar finished second twice, with the most recent coming in the RBC Canadian Open the week after the British Open. All told, the 35-year-old finished in the top 10 eight times, including at the Masters, and earned more than $5.6 million in prize money along the way.

    On the strength of that regular season and his tie for fourth in the Deutsche Bank Championship, the former Georgia Tech standout finished sixth in the FedEx Cup.


    Why He Falls Short

    Kuchar was certainly among the most consistent golfers in 2013 and has as many PGA Tour victories as Mickelson, Stenson and Scott each have this year.

    That said, he failed to win a major championship, much less contend late in one. Likewise, his two wins are of high quality, but they pale in comparison to the triumphs Tiger recorded.

    There’s no question the six-time tour winner is among the most liked and respected in the sport, but this isn't a popularity contest, and Kuchar’s season simply doesn't stand up against the other finalists.

Henrik Stenson: 20-to-1

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    Making His Case

    Despite winning two of the four FedEx Cup tournaments on the way to claiming the 2013 playoffs and the $10 million bonus that came with it, Stenson is a long shot to win the honor.

    That doesn't change the fact that the veteran was arguably the best player in the world from the British Open through his season-ending victory at the Tour Championship this past weekend.

    The 2009 Players Championship winner finished second at Muirfield and third in the PGA back in August. In between, he added a tie for second at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

    Stenson then triumphed at the Deutsche Bank in the second leg of the playoffs and again at East Lake on Sunday to steal the FedEx Cup out from under favorite Woods.


    Why He Falls Short

    Given those accomplishments, had Stenson managed to win one of those majors he was so close to, he would be a slam-dunk winner of the award.

    Instead, the 37-year-old still lacks a major title, which ultimately puts his candidacy behind Scott and Mickelson.

    Additionally, despite the fact he bested him in the playoffs, his two victories pale in comparison to Woods, especially given the fact Tiger claimed two World Golf Championships and a Players title in 2013.

Phil Mickelson: 10-to-1

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    Making His Case

    There’s no question Mickelson’s Open Championship victory was the highlight of an eventful 2013 PGA Tour season.

    It was also one of the more popular major championship triumphs in recent memory and makes Lefty a real threat to win Player of the Year honors.

    After entering the final round five shots behind Lee Westwood, Mickelson put together an amazing final nine holes at Muirfield to capture his first-ever British Open title just one week after winning the Scottish Open for his first professional win on European soil.

    His British triumph eased the pain of yet another second-place finish at the U.S. Open and gave Lefty his fifth major title in his Hall of Fame-caliber career.

    In addition to his Open victory and near miss at Merion, Mickelson claimed the Waste Management Phoenix Open early in the season and finished second at the FedEx St. Jude Classic the week prior to the U.S. Open.

    All told, Lefty had seven top-10 finishes and earned nearly $5.5 million in prize money. 


    Why He Falls Short

    Mickelson understandably struggled following his Muirfield triumph, finishing in the top five only once in his final six tournaments.

    Those struggles were magnified under the bright lights of the PGA Championship, where Lefty finished in a tie for 72nd, and the FedEx Cup playoffs in which he contended only once—at The Barclays.

    After rising to third in the FedEx standings, Mickelson ultimately placed ninth following a 12th-place finish in the Tour Championship.

    Those modest post-Muirfield performances stunted the significant momentum Mickelson’s British Open and U.S. Open performances had built toward Player of the Year honors and may well keep him from winning the award at the end of the week.

Adam Scott: 7-to-1

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    Making His Case

    It took several years longer than most expected, but Scott’s magical playoff victory at the 2013 Masters confirmed once and for all that the Aussie star is among the top five golfers in the world.

    And as a result, he’s among the final five with a chance to claim Player of the Year honors.

    Scott won his first career major in a playoff over 2009 Masters champion Angel Cabrera. His gutsy 12-foot birdie putt on the second hole won the tournament, but it was a birdie putt of twice that distance on the 72nd hole that got him into the playoff.

    Not only did the triumph erase the one blemish on Scott’s impressive resume, it served as a springboard to a stellar 2013 campaign. He added two more top 10s in major championships with a tie for third at the British Open and a fifth-place tie in the PGA Championship.

    Scott added a second victory a little more than a month ago at The Barclays and ultimately finished a solid fourth in the FedEx Cup.


    Why He Falls Short

    Scott started strong and most certainly finished the season that way, but in the middle, he all but disappeared.

    In fact, in between his Masters victory and his strong showing in the Open Championship, Scott was by and large off the radar. The 10-time PGA Tour winner only played four times on tour in that three-month span, and his best finish was a tie for 13th at the Memorial Tournament.

    Like many did, he struggled mightily at Merion Golf Club, finishing the U.S. Open at 15 over and in 45th place.

    Admittedly, that’s a weak argument against Scott, and the reality is it comes down to whether voters will find his strong play in majors a more appealing argument than the five PGA Tour wins Tiger Woods brings to the debate.

Tiger Woods: 5-to-1

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    Making His Case

    On the strength of his five PGA Tour victories, Tiger has already claimed the points-based PGA of America Player of the Year honors.

    He’s also won the Vardon Trophy for the PGA Tour’s lowest stroke average for an amazing ninth time.

    But it’s not just the five PGA Tour victories that make Tiger such a compelling choice for the big prize of PGA Tour Player of the Year; it’s the absolute quality of those wins.

    In a season that could make a career for many professionals, Woods won a pair of World Golf Championship events and—for only the second time in his career—captured the Players Championship at famed TPC Sawgrass.

    Tiger also claimed both the Farmers Insurance Open and the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which he won for the eighth time in his storied career. Following that victory at Bay Hill, Tiger regained his world No. 1 ranking from Rory McIlroy and appears in no danger of giving it back any time soon.

    By contrast, no other golfer has won more than twice on the PGA Tour, and no one came close to his impressive $8.5 million in earnings.


    Why He Falls Short

    For the most part, Tiger struggled in the major championships he values above all else and several times ran afoul of the rules in big events. Those two factors could easily sway votes to Scott or Mickelson, the only two players in the mix with major victories this year.

    His best showing in golf’s biggest events was a tie for fourth at the Masters, a performance that was marred by a near disqualification stemming from a bad drop late in the second round. Woods also finished 13 over at the U.S. Open—his worst-ever score in a major championship as a professional.

    Like Mickelson, Woods struggled down the stretch, failing to win a single event after his runaway victory at the Bridgestone Invitational the week prior to the PGA Championship.

    Bottom line, Tiger’s five quality wins will likely be enough to carry the day, but the world’s top-ranked golfer has certainly given golfers reason to look in another direction if they choose to.