Stenson's career arc, via a few long months in the gutter, is back pointing at the stars. But what about Tiger?
When it comes to Woods, everything is relative. That's what you get for being the most dominant golfer the game has seen and that's Tiger's lot from here until the day he hangs up his red shirt.
His five victories in 2013 are not to be sniffed at. Woods, with PGA Tour earnings of $8,553,439, leads the money list and claims the Vardon Trophy for player of the year. He also sits pretty atop the world rankings.
But we go back to this. Woods didn't win a major, for the fifth season running. He was in the mix at the Masters and Open, but his challenge faded. He didn't even mount a challenge at the US Open or US PGA.
"I wish I would have been a little more consistent in some of the events," Woods said on Sunday. "But overall, at the end of the day, to add to the win total for the year, it's always a good thing."
Let's dig into his stats. Woods is second for scoring average on the PGA Tour this year, second for birdie average and first for greens in regulation inside 125 yards (the wedge is working).
Also, there's reason for optimism. If we compare his 2006 numbers, a year in which he won two majors, with the past three seasons, you can see trends in the right direction for driving accuracy and putting. (stats as per PGA Tour)
|Strokes Gained Putting||.438||.258||.332||.424|
|Greens in Regulation||74.15%||67.74%||67.58%||67.59%|
Woods' driving accuracy is still a long way off the 71.22% he achieved in 2000, and it almost certainly won't get back there again, but he is showing progress in the key areas of the game.
Was 2013 a success? Measured by the standards of Tiger 1.0, it was not. But the Tiger we know now is a different animal. He's having to grind to make small gains and he's at the mercy of a more fragile body and mind.
He's learning to manage both. The only hurdle left now is to re-learn what it takes to play a major like he does the biggest tour events.
Might be best PGA Tour stat of year: Only 7 times in 1,083 rounds as a pro has Tiger Woods failed to make a birdie -- 3 times at East Lake.— Steve Elling (@EllingYelling) September 20, 2013
Will Tiger add to his major haul? If he continues on this trajectory it will be the natural conclusion. After years on the slide, the world's best player is moving in the right direction again. He knows it and everyone on Tour knows it.
The drought will end at the Masters.