Player of the Year. It's a title any professional golfer would want attached to their name in a given season—including Tiger Woods.
But after winning the PGA Tour's highest honor for the 11th time in his remarkable 18-year career in 2013, he's kind of been there, done that.
Woods dealt with the usual assortment of criticisms from those who don't like him for one reason or another. Plus, he fought through a variety of injuries and ailments. But, he's used to negative feedback—warranted or not—and playing at less than 100 percent.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the rules snafus, too, recently popularized by one high-profile industry analyst, who went so far as to insinuate that Woods was a cheater.
He also didn't win a major championship in 2013. It has become, unfortunately, a recurring theme for Woods—a dark cloud that continues to hang over his 37-year-old head, becoming more ominous with each passing major.
Collectively, however, they proved to be little more than a speed bump on his road to success this past year—although, it's not far-fetched to say the bizarre rules infraction he was belatedly tagged with on No. 15 Friday at the Masters cost him that tournament.
Woods finished his 2013 PGA Tour season with an impressive five victories, including the Players Championship and two World Golf Championships.
He was named the PGA of America Player of the Year for the 11th time. He was the leading money winner, earning more than $8.5 million. He was first in FedEx Cup season points and All-Around Ranking, and his scoring average of 68.98 earned him his ninth Vardon Trophy.
"It's just been a fantastic year all around," Woods said on his website, via Mark Soltau. "It's also an incredible feeling to be voted by your peers, and to have that type of respect is very humbling."
If the aforementioned awards weren't enough, he also wrestled the Official World Golf Ranking's top spot back from Rory McIlroy. He won his third consecutive clinching point in the United States' fifth straight President's Cup victory, too.
It was a year to remember for Woods.
But for one of the greatest golfers of all time, whose primary focus is now narrowly centered on those four major championships each year, it had to be considered—at the very least—somewhat of a disappointment.
Woods hasn't won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open. If 2013 was any indication, however, he's on the right path to winning one—if he can overcome the self-imposed psychological obstacles that are hindering his progress.
Woods finished T-4 at Augusta, but for someone with four green jackets, it was hardly a consolation. He also flirted with the lead at The Open Championship at Muirfield for two rounds and change until a final round 74 left him five shots back in a tie for sixth place—a finish he called "frustrating" after struggling with the speed of the greens Sunday, via Bob Harig of ESPN.com.
Those are respectable placements for most golfers, but this is Tiger Woods. Top 10s don't impress.
As for the other majors, he wasn't even in contention at the U.S. Open (T-32) or the PGA Championship (T-40).
It causes concern regarding Woods' mental makeup, especially when you look at how he played on the weekends in not only the major championships but in all of his events in 2013. According to his PGA Tour performance stats, he was No. 48 in third-round scoring average and No. 93 in final rounds.
Is the pressure of having to win four more majors to tie Jack Nicklaus's record of 18 major titles more than he can handle? In 2013, I believe it was.
But I know better than to doubt what Woods is capable of—mentally or physically—even the modern day 2.0 version, where doubters continue to question whether he is "back" or not.
After a season full of championship-caliber golf, the likes of which Woods displayed in 2013—the impressive tournament victories against the best players in the world, the lowest scoring average (per 60 round minimum) and the most money earned—the good far outweighed the bad, even without a major title to his credit.
Woods will eventually figure out what's at the root of his major championship drought. And when he does, he might not only catch Nicklaus sooner than later—he might just pass him.
As the great Bobby Jones once said: "Competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course...the space between your ears."
That's the toughest course Woods will play the rest of his career, and if he figures out that terrain, it will leave little question as to who the best golfer of all time is.
After all, he'll have the results to prove it.