Woods nabs player of the year again

Posted: Tuesday, December 09, 2003

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) A wild season in golf came to a familiar conclusion Monday when Tiger Woods was voted PGA Tour player of the year for the fifth straight time, narrowly beating Vijay Singh.

Woods failed to win the PGA Tour money title or a major championship for the first time since 1998. Still, his peers decided his season was the best on tour.

Woods won five times, including two World Golf Championships, had the lowest scoring average and was second on the money list, despite playing only 18 times.

''There's a tremendous amount of satisfaction because it just shows that guys on the tour respect that I was consistent, that I've won numerous times,'' Woods said. ''I think that's what the award reflects.''

The PGA Tour does not release vote totals. Ben Curtis was voted rookie of the year for winning the British Open in his first appearance at a major. Peter Jacobsen was voted comeback player of the year for winning the Greater Hartford Open at age 49, his first tour victory in eight years.

Woods won for the sixth time in seven years; no one else has won player of the year more than twice since it was created in 1990. He became the first player since Greg Norman in 1995 to win the award despite not winning a major. Woods led the PGA Tour in victories for the fifth straight year, and his 68.41 adjusted scoring average was the second-lowest in history behind his 68.13 mark in 2000.

While Woods has said majors are the most important, more than that went into this vote.

''Number of wins and quality for the entire year,'' Woods said. ''I had the second-lowest scoring average in tour history next to mine in 2000, so that shows I played at a consistent level for the entire year.''

Singh was equally consistent, winning four times in the winter, spring, summer and fall and ending Woods' four-year reign atop the money list with $7.5 million.

The 40-year-old Fijian was consistent from start to finish, and he was particularly strong at the end of the year with two victories and eight straight finishes in the top 10 as he surged past Woods to win the money title.

''He was more consistent than he's ever been,'' Woods said. ''Toward the end of the year, he just got on a roll and was very consistent with his game. He had a lot of confidence. It just seemed like every single week he was in the top 10. That's what it's all about.''

Singh finished ahead of Woods in three of the majors, although neither won any of the four Grand Slam events.

Masters champion Mike Weir, U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk and Davis Love III, whose four victories included The Players Championship, also were on the ballot.

It was believed to be the closest vote since 1998, when Mark O'Meara and his two majors got the pick over David Duval and his four victories, the money title and the Vardon Trophy.

That was the only season Woods failed to win player of the year since his first full year on the PGA Tour.

''If you look at my career so far, the only year I really didn't win a big award was '98,'' Woods said. ''I'm very proud of that because it shows consistency at a high level for an extended period of time.''

Even more satisfying for Woods is that he missed the first five weeks of the year while recovering from knee surgery, and wasn't sure how it would affect his game.

He answered that immediately, winning the Buick Invitational by four shots in his first start. Woods won the Accenture Match Play Championship two weeks later, and won by 11 shots at the Bay Hill Invitational.

He finished in the top five in 10 of his 18 tournaments. The only black mark were the majors, where the closest he came was a tie for fourth two shots behind Curtis at the British Open.

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