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PGA Tour Confidential: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson or Adam Scott for Player of Year?

Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Adam Scott
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Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Adam Scott have made 2013 one of the most competitive Player of the Year races in recent memory.

Every Sunday night, conducts an e-mail roundtable with writers from Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine. Check in every week for the unfiltered opinions of our writers and editors and join the conversation in the comments section below.

1. All the main contenders for Player of the Year -- Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott -- were in the mix at the Barclays. Who is your choice for Player of the Year right now? Do top 3s, top 5s and top 10s count in your POY vote or just Ws?

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Sure, overall consistency and a number of high finishes are a factor, but wins are what really matter, and majors trump all. At this moment I give Phil the slightest edge over Tiger but the next three tournaments loom large. If Woods wins one or two and takes the FedEx Cup it’d be hard not to recognize his start-to-finish excellence. But for now Phil gets my vote for his epic victory at Muirfield, near-record win in Phoenix, strong performance at Castle Stuart and a bunch of other top finishes.

Josh Sens, contributing writer, Golf Magazine: Tiger. If any other player had won five times, we wouldn't even be asking the question. Top tens? Congratulations. You are very wealthy. You also have done nothing to sway my vote.

Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: I only count Ws and I think if I had to vote right this second I'd go with Tiger, who was back to his prolific winning in 2013. Could all change, though, if Adam or Phil pick up another win in the last three FEC playoff events.

Joe Passov, senior editor, Golf Magazine: It's still Tiger for me right now, though Mickelson and Scott are absolutely in the mix. As a tiebreaker, top 3s, 5s and 10s all count. I'd rather reward a guy who's in there every week, rather than someone who wins two events (even if one's a major) and has no other top 10s.

Mike Walker, senior editor, You can make strong case for all of them, but Barclays winner Adam Scot gets my vote. Masters champion. Top-5 finishes at British Open and PGA Championship. Of course getting close counts. If the majors are everything, then Scott’s performed the best at them and won the biggest one.

Jeff Ritter, senior producer, I still take Tiger for POY today. The runner-ups and top 10s matter a little, but not much. If Scott or Mickelson win one more FedEx event and/or the $10 million bonus to go with their majors, that could swing things their way.

Mark Godich, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: It's all about winning -- and it's all about winning majors. And for those reasons, I'm taking Phil. He delivered the most stirring final round in a major, and he did it on the most difficult test when others were struggling right and left.

2. Phil Mickelson electrified the galleries early Sunday when he shot 65 to get near the top of the leaderboard. Who is more popular with golf fans: Phil or Tiger?

GODICH: Phil just seems more likable and easier to root for. Every week is turning into a drama for Tiger.

MORFIT: That was the surprise of the week for me. This had all the earmarks of a year where Phil loses interest and sleepwalks in. Boy did he prove me wrong, just as he proved everyone wrong at the British. Phil is more exciting than Tiger in that way, because Phil's lows make his highs somehow more thrilling. And I think he's more beloved, which I don't think was the case a decade ago.

SENS: Mickelson is more popular with golf fans. Tiger is more popular with sports fans. Mickelson captivates the already-converted. Tiger holds the interest of a much wider audience of those who might not otherwise care.

RITTER: If you look at TV ratings, ticket sales (and yes, internet traffic) it’s still Tiger over Phil. But Phil has a unique and special bond with galleries. He’s the Arnold Palmer of this generation. On the ground at an event, it’s just about dead heat between Tiger fans and Phil fans.

PASSOV: Please define "popular." Phil elicits stronger reactions because he interacts with fans more than Tiger does, but no one is even close to Tiger at moving the needle. Ask any tournament director, and it's Tiger who can make or break their tournament in terms of buzz (Waste Management Phoenix Open excepted).

WALKER: Phil Mickelson’s popularity now approaches Tiger’s, but if Tiger and Phil are tied for the lead Sunday at Augusta, slightly more people are pulling for Tiger.

SHIPNUCK: Put it this way: Tiger is revered but Phil is beloved. They’ve always been somewhat polarizing, but I think over time Phil has won over more fans while Tiger has lost a bunch of them.


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