ATLANTA — No matter what happens at the Tour Championship, Tiger Woods is assured of being No. 1 in the world and No. 1 on the PGA Tour money list.
Everything else is up for grabs.
Woods has five wins this year, and no one else has more than two. Even so, the parity among top players this year is illustrated by how many of them have something to play for at East Lake when the Tour Championship gets underway today.
And it's more than just the FedEx Cup and its $10 million bonus.
“Two trophies here this week, and also potentially throwing my name in a Player of the Year debate, which I think is quite a prestigious honor amongst the company that I play golf against,” Masters champion Adam Scott said.
The two trophies are the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup, and they have gone to the same player four out of seven years.
Woods already is assured of winning the Arnold Palmer Award for leading the money list, which will be the 10th time in his career. He appears safe to win the Vardon Trophy for the lowest adjusted scoring average. Going into East Lake, his scoring average of 68.87 is slightly ahead of Steve Stricker (69.02).
This is one time when figuring out who wins the FedEx Cup — with a reset of points and all the projections — will be easier than predicting the player of the year.
“Well, I'd like to get a sixth win, how about that?” Woods said. “And we'll see what happens.”
A victory would indeed give Woods six this year, including two World Golf Championships, The Players Championship and the Tour Championship, along with the FedEx Cup. That would make it a fairly simple choice and allow players to overlook no majors when casting their votes.
Scott not only has a green jacket, he won the opening playoff event at The Barclays. He could make a strong case with three wins — all against strong fields — a major and the Fed Ex Cup.
Phil Mickelson has a claret jug from the British Open, where he produced one of the greatest final rounds in major championship history. He won the Phoenix Open this year after coming within a fraction of an inch of shooting 59. He could bring the same credentials as Scott if he were to win the Tour Championship.
“It would be hard not to give him the vote,” Scott said of Mickelson. “Then he has three wins with a major, and Tiger has five wins, and Phil has the FedEx Cup. I think it's a pretty strong case to say 'Phil.' But if you feel like five wins is more impressive, you can put Tiger. I don't really know. I think you've got a strong case to argue for both.”