Tiger wins eighth Jack Nicklaus Trophy
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Tiger Woods won PGA Tour player of the year on Tuesday for the eighth time, and the numbers looked familiar. He won multiple majors for the fourth time and more tournaments than anyone else.
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But it was hardly a typical year.
Woods won his first tournament of the year and then finished his PGA Tour season with six consecutive victories. In between, he disappeared from golf for more than two months to mourn the death of his father.
"I knew I had to go through -- like anyone -- the grieving process, and I had never done anything like that before," Woods said. "The hardest thing for me to do was play golf. Usually, people go to work to get away from a loss like that. But that's when I thought of my dad. He introduced me to the game of golf. He taught me a lot of life lessons on the golf course.
"When I came back and started working on my fundamentals ... I learned them from my dad," he said.
Since 1997, other than Tiger Woods, only Vijay Singh and Mark O'Meara have won the PGA Tour Player of the Year Award. Woods also won the award in 1997, 1999-2003 and 2005-06.
|Greens in reg.||74.2%||First|
|*Won 6 straight events (active streak)|
The award -- also called the Jack Nicklaus Trophy -- is decided by a vote of the players, although the PGA Tour does not disclose the results or even who finished second. The award began in 1990, and no one else has won it more than twice.
"That's always an honor to get the respect of your peers," Woods said. "And this year has been an interesting one to say the least, on the golf course as well as off."
Woods also won the Arnold Palmer Award for leading the money list at $9.9 million, and he won the Byron Nelson Award for the lowest scoring average at 68.11. The tour's scoring award only requires a minimum of 50 rounds, and Woods played 55.
Jim Furyk won the Vardon Trophy from the PGA of America with an average of 68.86. That award requires at least 60 rounds.
Trevor Immelman was voted rookie of the year after winning the Western Open and finishing seventh on the money list with more than $3.8 million, the highest money ranking by any PGA Tour rookie.
Comeback player of the year went to Steve Stricker, who failed to get out of the second stage of Q School last year. A three-time PGA Tour winner, Stricker had to rely on sponsor's exemptions and played only four times the first four months of the season.
He was in contention at the U.S. Open, was strongly considered for the Ryder Cup team and finished 34th on the money list.
"This is pretty special," Stricker said Tuesday. "This year meant a lot just to prove I could play competitively again."
There were questions about Woods' competitive drive after his father, Earl Woods, died May 3 of cancer. He took nine weeks off and returned at the U.S. Open, where he missed the cut for the first time in a major. In his next tournament, he opened with a 72 and again was in danger of missing the cut.
But he rallied to finish second in Chicago and never lost on the PGA Tour the rest of the year.
"I went back to the same things I was working on at the beginning of the year and they started clicking," Woods said. "And I won a few tournaments."
He won the British Open at Royal Liverpool to become the first player in 23 years to successfully defend golf's oldest championship. He won the Buick Open and then added his second major at the PGA Championship at Medinah, a victory that made him the first player in history to win multiple majors in consecutive years.
Woods won the Bridgestone Invitational in a playoff, rallied from a three-shot deficit against Vijay Singh to win the Deutsche Bank Championship with a 63 and then overwhelmed the field outside London to win by eight shots at the American Express Championship.
That was the last PGA Tour event he played. Woods skipped Disney and the Tour Championship, saying he was worn out by an emotionally taxing year. He played twice in Asia and finished second both times, although he will carry a PGA Tour winning streak into 2007.
Woods said he doesn't measure himself by trophies or awards but a gauge only he can read.
"Am I a better golfer right now than I was at the beginning of the year? If the answer is yes, then it's a successful year," he said. "Because if I did that for the rest of my career ... it's a great career."
Woods is host of the Target World Challenge, an unofficial event with 16 players competing for $5.75 million at Sherwood Country Club. He is not sure when he will start his 2007 season, saying his mind is on this week and then going skiing with his wife.
The holidays and his birthday -- he turns 31 on Dec. 30 --- are a package, although he said they have been a blur the last couple years as his father's health deteriorated.
"I didn't do anything for my birthday; I didn't even know it was my birthday," he said. "I was up three, four, five days in a row nonstop trying to be with Dad. I just hung around him as much as I possibly could."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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