MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
To say that golfer Tiger Woods has had a bad year is kind of like saying that Beethoven had a lousy 1806. That's the year the composer wrote his fourth symphony, not one of his best-known works but still pretty amazing. By the standard of normal golfing mortals, Woods has had an incredible summer. He's won multiple tournaments and millions of dollars in prize money. What he didn't do was win any of golf's four major championships.
And as NPR's Mike Pesca reports from Jersey City, where Woods is playing this weekend, that's led some to write off Tiger's 2013 as a failure.
MIKE PESCA, BYLINE: Tiger Woods has the most top 10 finishes on the PGA tour this year, but for him, that's not the measure of success. Woods has won more money on the tour than any of his peers, but for him, money isn't the measure. Woods has won five tournaments this year. The next closest competitor has only two wins and that's impressive for anybody.
BILL ROSINSKI: But for him, it's about major championships and it's been a while.
PESCA: That's Bill Rosinski of PGA Tour Radio, who's been following Tiger for round after round this season. Rounds in such tournaments as the Bridgestone, which he crushed. The PGA, where he struggled to a 40th place finish and the Masters, where he came in fourth. But ask most golfers on the tour, including the man who won the Masters, Adam Scott, and they'll tell you who the player of the year is.
ADAM SCOTT: Tiger. Five wins? Has he won five times? Tiger's had the best year.
PESCA: But when Scott was asked at this week's Barclay's Open in Jersey City if he'd trade his one win this season and the green jacket that goes with it for Tiger's five, Scott said...
SCOTT: I'd rather have mine, that's for sure. I really don't know. He may want mine. I mean, number 15's proving to be difficult for him.
PESCA: Indeed, Woods would rather have Scott's season.
TIGER WOODS: I'll take the Major.
PESCA: Woods, also speaking before a play began at the Barclay, said he'd trade all his wins this year for what would be his 15th Major, pulling closer to Jack Nicholas' all-time record of 18. But Woods is still proud of his accomplishments.
WOODS: This year's been a great year so far. I mean, I've won at two of my favorite venues, plus, you know, winning two world golf championships and a Players in there. It's been pretty good.
PESCA: Five or six years ago, the phrase pretty good as applied to Tiger Woods would have been ironic. Now it's being put forth as simply descriptive. And to a lot of Woods' peers, that's not fair. Fellow pro Bill Haas has said it's sad that the assessment of Woods has come to be dominated by talk of his losses in the Majors. Ignorant, he called it.
Jason Dufner, who won the PGA championship two weeks ago, says that Woods' greatness has come to be taken for granted.
JASON DUFNER: You know, I think he spoils the media, the fans with how well he plays because then people think that other players should play at that level.
PESCA: But there's also the opinion that Tiger should be in a class above, a class that necessarily includes wins on the biggest stages. PGA Golf Radio's Bill Rosinski.
ROSINSKI: We hold him - and he holds himself - to that standard and that's just the way it is.
PESCA: But has it been a disappointing year by Tiger's own standards? I asked the man who best knows Tiger's standards, Tiger.
WOODS: Well, my standards, it's a great year.
PESCA: There are a number of empirically based awards which Woods is all but sure to win and he has a comfortable lead on the money list. The player of the year award is granted by a vote of all tour golfers. Three of the last fours, it went to a golfer who didn't win a Major. This year, if it goes to Woods, it will be an entry on a resume that perhaps unfairly has come to be defined by four major tournaments and little else. Mike Pesca, NPR News, New York.
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