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So, who's the PGA player of the year?

We're 28 tournaments into the PGA Tour season. The cleated gypsies have roamed from Hawaii to Arizona to Mexico to Florida to Georgia to the Carolinas to Ohio and various other stops, 28 in all with another encampment this week in Illinois.

If my arithmetic is correct, which is highly unlikely given my grades in school, they've hit about half a million shots in competition so far this year.

After all that, we should have a pretty good idea who is going to be the player of the year. But we don't. They've played 28 tournaments and had 25 different winners. Ernie Els, Jim Furyk and Justin Rose have two wins apiece. Jason Bohns and Derek Lamelys and Graeme McDowells have won most of the rest, with an occasional intrusion by more recognizable names.

Players we thought might rush into the vacuum created when Tiger Woods took several months off and came back without his game have not.

The PGA Tour Player of the Year award has been won by Tiger Woods in ten of the last 13 years. Along the way, he has generated unprecedented – unimagined -- interest in the game. With his troubles, the way is open for others to seize the banner but it isn't happening.

Phil Mickelson, heir apparent, has won only one time, although it was a good one, the Masters.

Vijay Singh, Davis Love, Sergio Garcia, Stewart Cink, Camilo Villegas, Adam Scott and 2009 US Open champion Lucas Glover are not to be found among the top 100 putters on tour this year, which tells you what kind of year they are having.

If there is a front runner for the trophy it's Els. He has his two wins, six top tens, leads the FedEx Points race and has banked over $4 million. Rose is making a bid with two wins and a near miss in recent tournaments. Furyk is Furyk, year in and year out, one of the best but never quite The Man.

If Els can maintain his pace, he'll probably emerge on top but there's a sense that he will be run down by Mickelson before it's over. Lefty is due for some more wins.

Rose should be a factor in the British Open next week. He grew up on the links. So did Lee Westwood, who has the best per-start record in the US this year with one win, one second and five top tens in nine starts. If either of those two wins the Open, they will surge toward the front in the player of the year race.

There is one other possibility for putting some fire into this thing. If Tiger suddenly became Tiger again, won the British Open and a couple more tournaments, he might claim his 11th trophy. Just a thought.

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