It seems like just yesterday that the 2013 PGA Tour season kicked off in Hawaii with the Tournament of Champions. No, here we are, days away from the Tour Championship. By Sunday evening, one of the 30 players headed to East Lake will find themselves over ten million dollars richer – quite the way to wrap up the grinding nine-month season.
For one player in particular, though, while the money surely would be nice, it’s the prestige of being called “champion” that drives him. Tiger Woods is already the biggest star in the game, and somehow this season has become as much about what he hasn’t accomplished as all the things he has.
Despite leading the Tour with five wins in 2013, the question that follows Woods relentlessly is “when will he win another major?” After failing to move closer to Jack Nicklaus‘s record of 18 major championships, despite strong showings at the Masters and the Open Championship, this week in Atlanta is all about reminding everybody that even at 37, Woods is still the dominant force in golf.
While he comes in with the leader’s advantage after the points reset, the FedEx Cup championship is anything but a given. Putting aside the fact that, technically, everybody in the field could win the title, each player in the top five is guaranteed the season title with a win this week. Aside from Woods, that group includes Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Zach Johnson and Matt Kuchar. Each of those other four players has already won this year, and are playing as well as anybody in the field.
In Woods’s favor, he’s the only player in the Playoff era with more than one win – 2007 and 2009 – and has won at East Lake before. Of course, he doesn’t have to win, he just has to finish well enough not to fall behind. A top-five finish would probably do the trick. The biggest knock on Woods has been his inability to win when the pressure was on at the majors, but this week, he doesn’t actually have to win to take the title. All that pressure just got a little easier.
There are plenty of players who have a legitimate chance at the FedEx Cup, but I think this will be the week that Woods puts the game together. No, it’s not a major, but adding another title to his record book will be incentive enough.