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Tiger still has lots to play for in 2013

Despite major drought, Woods' five wins put him three short of Snead

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Tiger Woods rips a tee shot during the pro-am of The Barclays golf tournament at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J., Wednesday.

REENA ROSE SIBAYAN / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge Image

Tiger Woods rips a tee shot during the pro-am of The Barclays golf tournament at Liberty National Golf Club in Jersey City, N.J., Wednesday.

JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- This might be the best way to measure Tiger Woods' season. Sam Snead is getting more attention than Jack Nicklaus.

Woods said again Wednesday at The Barclays this already has been a great season, and it's difficult to argue. His five wins -- including two World Golf Championships and The Players Championship -- are three more than anyone else on the PGA Tour. He is leading all the right indicators, such as the Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average, the money list ($2.6 million more than anyone else) and the No. 1 seed going into the FedEx Cup playoffs that start today.

The standard for Woods, however, always has been the majors, and he was shut out for the fifth straight year.

"His lack of winning a major is the only thing talked about, which I think is sad," Bill Haas said. "I think it's ignorant. But that's what we are basing his year on. He may even say, 'Oh, I'm disappointed because I didn't win a major. But he's not winning the smaller events. He's winning the WGCs and Bay Hill. And yes, it makes what he's doing that much more impressive, absolutely."

Woods is stuck on 14 majors, leaving him four short of the Nicklaus standard. The five wins this year, after three wins in 2012, has put him at 79 career wins, moving him closer to Snead's record 82 wins on the PGA Tour.

"I tell you what, I never thought I would ever get there this quick," Woods said. "It's been an amazing run to get here. One of the things I'm most proud of is winning five or more tournaments 10 years in there. That's one of the stats that I look at as one of the ones I'm really proud of. This is one of those years."

The next chance to add to his wins starts today at The Barclays, the first of four FedEx Cup playoff events against some of the strongest fields of the year. Yes, the majors are over.

There is still plenty up for grabs -- for Woods, British Open champion Phil Mickelson and even someone like Rory McIlroy.

Even though he has twice as many wins as anyone else, Mickelson could make a case for PGA Tour player of the year if he were to win a playoff or event (or two), particularly the FedEx Cup and its $10-million prize. Despite two decades of greatness and a spot in the World Golf Hall of Fame, Mickelson has never won player of the year, a money title or the Vardon Trophy.

Haas didn't hesitate when asked who had the best year -- Woods.

Neither did Masters champion Adam Scott.

"It's hard to pass up looking at five wins," Scott said. "I think the next best guy might have two, is that right? That's a great year to win that many times. It's all personal opinion. If you think winning a major is what you base success on, then if you haven't (won), you haven't had a great year. But winning... I've always based it around winning events, and I don't think one major makes up for five tournaments."

That led to another question posed to Scott: Would he trade seasons with Woods?

"I'd rather have mine, that's for sure," said Scott, who collected his first major at Augusta National. "He may want mine. I mean, No. 15 is proving to be difficult for him, so that would have given him that. But they've all got to get tougher the more you get."

Woods only played nine holes of his pro-am Wednesday at Liberty National, the course along the Hudson River across from the Statue of Liberty. He experienced stiffness in his neck and back from what he attributed to a soft bed in his hotel, and Woods decided only to chip and putt on the back nine as a precaution.

It was the latest nagging injury this year -- a tweaked back during the final round of the PGA Championship, an elbow injury in the summer that caused him to miss two tournaments -- though Woods was not concerned and said he was fine during his week off at home in Florida.

He is facing one of the toughest fields in the year featuring the top 125 players on the PGA Tour, all of whom are in form, some of whom are desperate to go as far as they can in these lucrative FedEx Cup playoffs.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 22, 2013 D5

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