Along with victories, money and scoring average, another way to measure the strength of a golf season is total world ranking points. Tiger Woods won that category, too, but just barely over Henrik Stenson. A closer look reveals it was not really that close.
Woods earned 488.75 points this year, only 3.65 points ahead of Stenson. Adam Scott was third, more than 100 points behind.
The difference, however, is that Woods played only 19 tournaments that awarded world ranking points. Stenson played 31 tournaments. Woods earned an average of 25.7 points for every tournament he played, compared with 15.6 points for Stenson.
This is nothing new for Woods. He tends to play the toughest courses against the strongest fields. He also helps to make the field strong as the No. 1 player in the world. And while he doesn't play often, he plays well when he does tee it up.
"Most of my events I play in the majority of my career have been on the more difficult venues, and against the better fields," Woods said this month. "And now that we have not just the majors and The Players, but we also have the World Golf Championships ... and also the playoffs at the end of the year, you're getting the top players to play together more often. And I'm very proud of my overall record, especially in the bigger events."
Here's another way to look at it — the 19 tournaments worldwide Woods played this year offered an average of 72.7 points to the winner.
All of this made perfect sense to Ian Poulter, a student of the world ranking.
"How many events has he played, 19?" Poulter said. "So he's got four majors, three World Golf Championships (Woods skipped the HSBC Champions), four FedEx playoff events. If you look where he plays, they are all the events where the top players are playing. You would theoretically say he's got a good chance to earn a lot of points. But he has to play well."
And that he did.
MORE ON THE RANKING: The top 28 players in the world ranking at the end of 2012 were PGA Tour members this year, which made the gap between the PGA Tour and the European Tour even wider in measuring strength of field.
The average reward for PGA Tour winners was 56.2 ranking points, compared with 43 points on the European Tour. That includes the majors and World Golf Championships for both tours. Remove those eight big events, and the average was 47.3 points for PGA Tour winners compared with 33.1 points on the European Tour.
Except for the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, which gets a bonus as the flagship event, the strongest field on the European Tour was in Abu Dhabi (54 points). The PGA Tour had nine events with a stronger field. The Barclays and Deutsche Bank Championship led the way, offering 74 points each. That's to be expected because they start off the FedEx Cup playoffs. Of regular events, the Memorial gave 70 points to the winner.
KERR BECOMES MOTHER: Two weeks after the LPGA Tour season ended, Cristie Kerr became a mother for the first time.
Mason Kerr Stevens was born Dec. 8. Kerr and her husband, Erik Stevens, had the child through surrogacy because of what Kerr said were "personal medical complications precluding us from traditional pregnancy."
"We would like to send out a special thanks to all the people who helped make this miracle happen," Kerr said.
POULTER THE PEACOCK: The putt turned out to be meaningless, though Ian Poulter didn't know that when he stood over a 15-foot par putt on the 18th hole at Royal Birkdale in the 2008 British Open.