Tiger Woods doesn’t need the money. He could probably live without another regular tour title but in a season that failed to yield that 15th major, the FedEx Cup and the £6.6m jackpot that comes with it would arguably mark him out as the year’s top golfer. And that matters as much as it ever did to him.
Woods has already won five times. The world rankings have him at no.1. He is also no.1 in the Fed Ex table taking a stash of points into the final event, the Tour Championship, that mean he could still take the bounty finishing 29th in a 30-man field. But, as ever, coming second is never the goal.
“I’d like to get a sixth win. I’m in a good spot. I’ve won five times this year so top of the rankings. Top five players are in control of their own destiny here, so looking forward to the week,” Woods said. “I’ve won some big events this year, two world championships, so it’s been a pretty good year. A lot of people thought I wouldn’t win again and here we are. I’m pretty excited about how it’s gone these past couple of years coming off injuries.”
The FedEx Cup is in its seventh year, introduced to spice up the end of the PGA Tour season. Woods is already a two-time winner. Points are amassed throughout the regular season feeding into a four-tournament finale in September with increasingly diminishing fields. The European Tour embarks on its inaugural, big-money replica next month with two events in China followed by Turkey and Dubai.
The Turkish Airlines Open is one of the three engagements, alongside the Presidents Cup and his own Chevron Challenge, that Woods has pencilled in to close out a year that he considers one of his best. Whether his peers agree will be decided when the votes are collected in the player of the year award, an accolade Woods treasures even now.
“This tournament adds value to that. There are some guys here this week who have won majors. So this week will have a lot to do with it (the award). If you have a year when they (peers) think you are deserving it is pretty special. I’ve had the award before. Hopefully this will be another. The way I have come back and demonstrated that I can play at a high level, and achieve a world ranking not many have got to, is something I am pretty proud of.”
Of the PGA Tour’s elite Brits only Justin Rose and Luke Donald progressed to East Lake, Atlanta. Notionally all 30 players have a shot at winning the trophy, but Donald, whose accrued points total sees him start in 28th place, must win and hope the highest ranked players finish in the required slots well down the field. Rose, who starts ninth, will collect the cash bonus with victory if, among other outcomes, Woods finishes outside the top three.
Among other things concentrating the mind of the world’s best is the role of video evidence in the dispensing of justice. After his two-shot penalty last week when the fractional movement of his ball as he moved an impediment was caught on camera, Woods closed with this comment.
“HD TV has been a huge transition. There are a lot more viewer call-ins. A lot never see light of day but they are handled with the players. It’s a new age in which there are a lot of cameras around my group and the top players. Virtually every shot is on. Most players don’t get it until the last group on Sunday. It’s a new age. We are going to have to have some discussions about it.”