PGA Tour Player of the Year....
Woods captures another big award
By DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer
December 9, 2003
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) -- Tiger Woods' least productive season since 1998 was still enough for him to be voted PGA Tour player of the year.
He didn't win a major.
He didn't even win the PGA Tour money title.
But when the votes from more than 200 of his peers were tallied, Woods had just enough to edge Vijay Singh and win the award for the fifth straight time, and the sixth time in his seven full seasons on tour.
``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.''
It wasn't the slump that some made it out to be, despite failing to win a major for the first time since 1998.
Woods still led the PGA Tour with five victories, including two World Golf Championships. His 68.41 adjusted scoring average was the second-lowest in history, earning him a fifth straight Vardon Trophy.
The PGA Tour does not release final votes, but it was believed to be one of the closest races since the award began in 1990.
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 became the first player since Greg Norman in 1995 to win the award without capturing a major championship.
While Woods has said majors are the most meaningful criteria in these awards, it was clear that more 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 in 27 tournaments, nine more than Woods played.
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.
Woods last month won the points-based PGA of America player of the year award for the fifth straight year.
These honors usually have been decided by the end of the summer. This was the closest race since 1998, when Mark O'Meara's two majors were voted ahead of David Duval's four tour victories, money title and the Vardon Trophy.
That was the only season Woods failed to win a major award.
He won PGA Tour rookie of the year in 1996, winning twice in eight tournaments to qualify for the Tour Championship, still one of his most remarkable feats.
``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.