Tiger Voted Tour's Top Player

Tiger Woods was voted by his peers as the PGA Tour player of the year Thursday after setting new standards in major championships and money, and providing unforgettable shots along the way.

It was the third time in the past four years that Woods won the Jack Nicklaus Award, the most of any player since the award began in 1990. He earlier won the PGA of America player of the year award, which is based on points.

Tour members selected Paul Azinger for comeback player of the year after he led all the way in winning the Sony Open in Honolulu, his first PGA victory since he was diagnosed with lymphoma in his shoulder in 1993.

Michael Clark, who won the John Deere Classic, was voted rookie of the year.

On the European Tour, Lee Westwood was voted player of the year for a season that included six official victories, and two great finishes in Spain to win the money title and end the seven-year reign of Colin Montgomerie.

Woods, 24, had what arguably was the greatest season ever in golf.

He won nine PGA Tour events, the most since Sam Snead won 11 times in 1950, and earned a record $9,188,321 to win his third money title in only his fourth full season on tour.

He also shattered Byron Nelson's scoring average with 68.17, and won the tour's Byron Nelson Award with an adjusted scoring average of 67.79.

Woods became only the fifth player, and the youngest, to complete the Grand Slam when he won the British Open at St. Andrews. He also joined Ben Hogan as the only players to win three consecutive professional majors with his thrilling PGA playoff victory over Bob May.

Other nominees were Phil Mickelson, a four-time winner this year, and Ernie Els, who won the International and became the first player to finish runner-up in three straight majors.

The tour does not disclose whether the vote for Woods was unanimous.

"The fact that I was able to play as well as I did in the big events ... that's ultimately what you want to have happen," Woods said.

Woods led six of 10 statistical categories and set records in five of them scoring, greens in regulation (75.2 percent), eagles (72), birdies (one ever 492 holes) and an all-around score of 113, which is derived by adding his ranking in all categories.

Perhaps the one number that spoke to his dominance was 12-under in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He became the first player to finish a U.S. Open double digits under par, and his 15-stroke victory was the largest in the 140-year history of majors.

Woods also set a major championship record by finishing at 19 under at St. Andrews for an eight-stroke victory in the British Open. And by finishing at 18-under 270 at Valhalla Golf Club in the PGA, he owns scoring records in all four majors.

There were other great moments holing a sand wedge for eagle on the 15th at Pebble Beach as the centerpiece of his comeback in the National Pro-Am, from seven strokes down with seven holes to play. It was his sixth consecutive PGA victory, the longest streak since Hogan won six straight in 1948.

He also won the Canadian Open by one stroke over Grant Waite by hitting a 6-iron from 218 yards out of the bunker and over the water for a two-putt birdie. And even in his 11-stroke victory at Firestone in the NEC Invitational, he birdied the last hole in the dark to set the 72-hole course record.

Azinger had only one victory, but it was meaningful. It was his first tournament since the death of close friend Payne Stewart, and his first victory since his bout with cancer seven years ago. Azinger ended the year with a career-high $1,597,539 and played on the Presidents Cup team, his first team event since the '93 Ryder Cup.

Clark was the only rookie to win on the PGA Tour this year, in a playoff at the John Deere Classic. He finished 56th on the money list with $854,822.

Westwood, the 27-year-old Englishman, had strong finishes in the Volvo Masters and the World Golf Championship in Spain to beat good friend Darren Clarke in the money race.

He also became the first player in four years to win a tournament in which Woods had at least a share of the 54-hole lead, coming from behind in Germany.

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