JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Two snapshots from Liberty National could illustrate the fortunes and future at the top of the world golf ranking.
One was of Tiger Woods dropping to his hands and knees with back pain after hitting a shot so far left that it landed in a pond on the other side of an adjacent fairway.
The other was of Masters champion Adam Scott swinging his driver, a beautiful blend of balance, rhythm and power.
Scott went on to win The Barclays, partly because of his bogey-free 66 Sunday, mostly because the other contenders fell apart down the stretch. No apologies were necessary. Woods has won plenty of tournaments that way.
"I feel like I've been given a bit of a gift," Scott said. "But I'll take it."
Woods finished one shot behind, unable to atone for three bad swings that led to bogeys on the back nine.
The big picture was Monday morning.
Scott moved up to a career-best No. 2 in the world, but he's really no closer to Woods than he ever has been.
Even if the Australian were to win the next three FedEx Cup playoff events – about as easy as winning four straight majors – he still wouldn't replace Woods at No. 1. That's how big the gap is between Woods and the rest of golf.
Woods hasn't won a major in 5 years, but he's still winning against strong fields. And even though nagging injuries seem to be piling up, he's winning more than anyone else.
That's what Scott will have to learn to do if he wants to be the best in the world.
This is only the second time Scott has had a multiple-win season on the PGA Tour. The other was in 2004, when he won The Players Championship and the Booz Allen Classic at Congressional. Around the world, he has won at least once in each of the last 13 seasons, but never more than two wins in any season.
Scott now has 21 wins worldwide, leaving him 70 behind Woods.
Woods is never a fair comparison for anyone. Scott said as much 7 years ago when asked what it was like to grow up dreaming about being the best in the world and being stuck in the same generation as a guy like Woods.
"The hardest thing now is for young kids to realize this Tiger benchmark is out of most everyone's league," he said at the end of the 2006 season, when Woods had won six straight PGA Tour events.
He jokingly said that day he would have to wait until Woods went through another swing change. That time has come and gone.