Woods named PGA TOUR Player of the Year

December 10, 2007
PGA TOUR Staff

Flanagan gets honors on Nationwide Tour | • Haas the man on Champions Tour

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Tiger Woods was named the Player of the Year by his fellow competitors on the PGA TOUR; it was announced Tuesday by PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem.

"To earn the respect of your peers is the highest honor you can receive," Finchem said.

"These players all demonstrated remarkable skill and dedication to their craft this past season, and we congratulate them on their selections."

Woods echoed the commissioner's sentiment on respect from peers. "It's been a great year. Overall, I mean, to get obviously the wins and get the respect of your peers, that's always what you want to have happen. This year was just a fantastic year on the golf course and even better off the golf course," Woods said.

The 31-year old Woods earned the honor for the third consecutive season and ninth time in the last 11 years. In 2007, he won seven times, including the PGA Championship, his 13th major championship title, and captured the inaugural FedExCup. In addition, his season was highlighted by wins in two World Golf Championships events, and he closed strong by winning two of the four events in the first-ever PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup and four of his final five starts overall.

While Woods first won the Player of the Year award in 1997, and 2000 was arguably his best year yet, Woods' spectacular performance in 2007 edged him closer to beating that benchmark millenium year. "Yeah, I think it was a better year this year, even though I didn't quite -- I had a chance probably -- a great chance to win three of the four majors this year. I finished second in two of them. I was just a few shots away from basically doing what I did in 2000," Woods said.

And this year, he also collected the Arnold Palmer Award for the eighth time as the leading money winner, earning $10,867,052 -- the second highest total in TOUR history.

Finally, Woods took home his eighth Byron Nelson Trophy for leading the TOUR in scoring average as his 67.79 mark equaled the lowest average in TOUR history.

Phil Mickelson was the only other nominee for Player of the Year honors on the PGA TOUR after he completed his season with three victories, including THE PLAYERS Championship title.

But as always, the end of the year only brings the TOUR to the beginning of another. And 2008 will send Woods home for one of the major championships -- possibly a big advantage for the Player of the Year. "For me to come back to So Cal and play a major championship here, that's as good as it gets for me. Being at home and playing in a major championship, it's probably very similar to some of the other players who grew up and fight like Charles Howell does every year at Augusta."

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So maybe next year will be that year to beat 2000.

Snedeker named Rookie of the Year

Brandt Snedeker, who won the Wyndham Championship and finished 20th on the FedExCup points list, was selected as the PGA TOUR's Rookie of the Year. He had six top-10 finishes to his credit and collected $2,836,643 -- the third highest rookie total in history.

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"This has been a wonderful season for me and to finish it by being voted by my peers as the Rookie of the Year is tremendous," Snedeker said.." When I looked at the list of TOUR players who have been honored in such a way, I am humbled to have my name alongside them."

Snedeker said his tremendous season came from modest expectations.

"When I started the season, I had certain goals as we all do," he said. "Obviously, I wanted to keep my card and learn as much as possible about life on this TOUR and find a comfort level out here. Thankfully, I got off to a good start on the west coast swing and my confidence grew.

"As the season progressed, I really gained confidence, knew I could compete on this level and a lot of hard work came to fruition with my victory at the Wyndham Championship."

That win came from one tremendous shot.

Snedeker's 3-iron to within 32 feet on the par-3 17th set up a birdie putt that moved him ahead of Tim Petrovic for good, and the rookie finished with a 9-under 63 on Sunday for his first career PGA TOUR win, a two-stroke victory.

"My 2007 year has already opened a lot of doors for me," Snedeker said. "I was able to spend some time in November and December in Japan and Australia and it has been a great experience."

He also joins a short list of Nationwide Tour grads that have gone on to win the TOUR's rookie award.

"I am honored to follow in the steps of Stewart Cink, Steve Flesch and Jonathan Byrd," Snedeker said. " I also understand nine Nationwide Tour alum have gone on to win this award. Certainly that is a testament on how much the Nationwide Tour prepares you to play at the game's highest level."

He earned the honor over a field that included George McNeill (a winner at the Frys.com Open) and Anthony Kim.

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"I would like to thank my fellow competitors for finding me worthy of this award," Snedeker said. "I look forward to 2008 and the challenge of competing at a level of consistency."

Stricker is Comeback Player of the Year -- again

The PGA TOUR's Comeback Player of the Year Award went to Steve Stricker for the second consecutive season. Stricker finished second in the FedExCup race and had nine top-10 finishes, the second highest total of his career. His victory at The Barclays, the first PGA TOUR Playoff event, ended a victory drought that dated back to the 2001 season.

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He had gone six years and 146 tournaments since his last victory. Four times this year, he wasted prime chances to pose with the trophy. The worst feeling Sunday at The Barclays was seeing K.J. Choi pour in two birdie putts that measured a combined 95 feet that gave him the lead and left Stricker destined for more heartache.

In a stunning turnaround, the tears he shed on the 18th green were from sheer joy.

And it's not only Stricker's peers and fans who know 2007 was a blowout year for the world's No. 4 golfer. The Barclays blew him away too. "It was such a long time in between wins. 2001 was a win at the Match Play, but you've got to go all the way back to '96 before I won a stroke-play event. That definitely was the highlight of my career. And I still --- my wife and I talk about it - that did-it-really-happen type of thing. We still can't believe it yet," Stricker said.

Stricker birdied four of his last five holes to close with a 2-under 69, turning a one-shot deficit into a two-shot victory over Choi and getting the inaugural FedExCup Playoffs off to a rousing start.

Stricker's win was as exquisite as they come. He took the lead Saturday night with a third-round 65 then gutted it out for the first 13 holes of the final round. He lost the lead. Then Stricker birdied four of the last five to put an exclamation point on his comeback with a win on a course he swore he would never play again.

"But it was such a relief, to tell you the truth. I've worked. I mean, every player out here wants to do this, wants to win. That's what we are all out here to do. You don't get in position that many times, and when you do, it's tough to pull it off."

As the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup continued, Stricker's roll continued. He tied for ninth at the Deutsche Bank Championship, third at the BMW Championship and T17 at THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola.

When you come that close that consistently, it has to be hard not to feel the intimidation chill from the shadow of the player who is almost always that the one being chased. But Stricker's key to success when he's up against Woods is to focus on his own game and not on that of the nine-time Player of the Year. "You know, just playing with him toward the end of the season and watching what he does and what he's capable of doing kind of just blows me away at times. I realized that back in '97 when I first played with him ... If you start to watch him and start to watch what he does, to me that's a no-no," Stricker said

As a result of concentrating on his own game, he finished second not only in the FedExCup standings, but also in scoring average and greens in regulation for the Playoffs.

He was selected over a group that included Rocco Mediate and Brian Bateman.

And Stricker's aspirations for next year? Can you be a comeback player three years in a row? Not for him, says Stricker. "I was thinking about what I would have to do to win this three years in a row, and usually you have to have a better year than last year. I don't know if I'd be out of this ballot and maybe be on the Player of the Year ballot, which would be nice."

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It might not be a true hat-trick, but it's not a bad goal.