This week’s Tour Championship, not to mention this year’s FedEx Cup, pretty much comes down to this: Tiger Woods vs. 29 underdogs.
That’s a testament to Tiger’s unparalleled ability, not a slight to the other players.
It is interesting that the top two players in the rejiggered FedEx Cup points standings are Tiger and Steve Stricker, who also happen to be No. 1 and No. 2 on another list that we give a little more credence to the Official World Golf Ranking. Though Stricker will be seen as an underdog this week, he’s certainly no fluke.
He won three times this year and established himself as the second-best American player, replacing Phil Mickelson, who endured a year of family adversity. This is why Woods is the overwhelming favorite to win at East Lake, or any place he plays:
He leads the Tour in scoring average by a whopping margin. He averaged 68.06. Stricker is second at 69.32. Jim Furyk is third at 69.56, and David Toms and Zach Johnson are just behind him. Woods is averaging 1.25 strokes lower per round than anyone else.
That’s five shots in a four-round tournament. And this in a year when critics have barked about Tiger not playing up to his usual standards, not winning a major and maybe not totally recovering from knee surgery last year (despite those six victories and his No. 1 FedEx rank).
The reality is this: Tiger Woods had an outstanding year. He is two victories short of tying Jack Nicklaus for second place on the Tour’s all-time list at 73, an incredible number. So he didn’t win a major championship? Six wins in any year is impressive.