Golf

Ranking The 2013 PGA Tour Player Of The Year Candidates

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Ranking The Five PGA Tour Player Of The Year Candidates

Player Of The Year
Kevin Liles - USA TODAY Sports

The PGA Tour’s 2013 season awards are almost all set. After Henrik Stenson won the FedEx Cup, several other individual honors have either already been given, or will be on Friday. Steve Stricker actually narrowly edged Tiger Woods for the Byron Nelson Award for low scoring average. Stricker, who played a reduced schedule in 2013 to spend more time with his family, beat Woods by less than five-hundredths of a stroke to bring home the honors. Woods, of course, still won the Arnold Palmer Award for finishing at the top of the money list.

Then there are the awards that aren’t as well-publicized, but perhaps should be. Peter Jacobsen will be announced on Friday as the winner of the Payne Stewart Award, given to the golfer who “best exemplifies the values of character, charity, and sportsmanship.” Stewart, who passed away tragically in 1999, was known for being one of the true good guys on Tour, and Jacobsen holds up to that standard in his work with several charities including The First Tee, the March of Dimes, and the Wounded Warrior Project. It’s important that we take a moment to recognize that golfers are among the most charitable and giving of all professional athletes with both their time and money.

Of course, the main event of the awards will be the Player of the Year honors. The PGA of America has already given their title to Tiger Woods in a points-based system, but the Tour itself features a voting system that gives this year’s crop a bit less predictability. All week, I’ve broken down each of the five players who are up for the Jack Nicklaus Award. Here is how I see the voting turning out.

Brandon Raper is a golf writer for RantSports.com. “Like” him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter @Brandon__Raper, and add him to your Google+ network.

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5) Matt Kuchar

Kuchar
Kevin Liles - USA TODAY Sports

Matt Kuchar played some outstanding golf in 2013, making the cut in all 23 events he played and winning two. He was also one of the most consistent players on Tour yet again, with eight top-ten and an incredible 15 top-25 finishes. As I wrote earlier this week, though, Kuchar is quickly moving into “best player never to win a major” territory, and that will likely hurt him in the voting.

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4) Phil Mickelson

Mickelson
Reid Compton - USA TODAY Sports

Mickelson could easily win the Player of the Year award, still riding the high of his first Open Championship victory. He’s a wildly popular player with fans, media and his fellow competitors, but a few missed cuts and poor finishes near the end of the season will cost him in the “what have you done for me lately?” category.

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3) Henrik Stenson

Stenson
Brett Davis - USA TODAY Sports

Stenson capped off his major comeback season with two wins in the playoffs on his way to the FedEx Cup title. He finished first in greens in regulation, fourth in scoring average, and fifth in the all-around category. He started the season off a bit slowly, but his huge finish makes him a legitimate threat to take the golf version of the MVP.

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2) Adam Scott

Scott
Kevin Liles - USA TODAY Sports

Adam Scott seems to be the favorite in the “who can knock off Tiger Woods?” discussion, and for good reason. Even with the playoff structure that has been in place since 2007, golfers and everybody who follows the sport still place extra emphasis on the majors. With his win at Augusta coming in dramatic fashion, Scott followed that performance with top-five finishes at Muirfield and Oak Hill. Nobody had a better major year than the Aussie.

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1) Tiger Woods

Woods
Kevin Liles - USA TODAY Sports

When it comes down to it, Woods is still the best player in the world, and five wins and the money title have to count for something. Even though Woods isn’t the most popular player among his peers, there’s an obvious and deserved respect for his game. Critics will understandably point to his lack of majors, but there’s really no denying that Woods had a season that any other player in the world would trade for.