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Tiger Woods wins GWAA award again

Tiger Woods may not have matched his outstanding achievements of the previous two years during 2001 but his golf was still good enough to earn him the Player of the Year award from the Golf Writers Association of America.

The world number one produced five victories on this year's U.S. Tour, including the Masters crown at Augusta which made him the first player in the history of the game to hold all four majors at one time.

Woods won the accolade despite being off his peak in 2001 (Action Images)
He then closed the year with his three-shot triumph over Fiji's Vijay Singh in his own event, the Williams World Challenge on Sunday.

That win was the first by Woods since the WGC-NEC Invitational at Firestone in August and his scorching back nine of six-under-par 30 at the Sherwood Country Club on Sunday, which featured five birdies in a row, was his best stretch since the Memorial in early June.

Going into the last day, he trailed Singh by four strokes but, by the time he collected his final birdie of the day at the 18th, he had tied the course and tournament record with an eight-under-par 64.

"I'm on the right track and I felt like I had a really solid season," he said.

Woods, 25, was always going to be up against it trying to match his astonishing golf of 2000, when he broke record after record as he secured three of the game's four majors and won nine times in all.

But, although he failed to contend in the last three majors of 2001, his extraordinary golfing talent and disciplined work ethic still combined to leave him well ahead at the top of the year-end world rankings. Woods has now led the rankings for a record 124 straight weeks and, by the end of 2001, he was a full 6.51 points ahead of second-placed Phil Mickelson on the global pecking order.

His victory in the Williams World Challenge, his seventh around the world during the year, left him with only the Buick Open and the Nissan Open in the United States as tournaments he has played in at least three times without winning.

"This is very special," Woods said after his first professional victory in southern California. "It's been a very tough, emotional week for all of us."

The reigning Masters champion dedicated his Williams World Challenge win to Cuba Wadington, executive vice-president of Williams who died a week ago after a long battle with cancer.

Although his back nine of 30 on Sunday spurred him on to victory, Woods admitted his battling bogey five at the par-four ninth laid the platform for his comeback.

Woods had pushed his tee shot into a bunker on the right but he eventually managed to hole a 30-foot putt for his five as Singh three-putted for a bogey five of his own.

"That was a big turnaround because it looked like I was going to drop at least one or two shots," said Woods. "It was a huge momentum swing."

"I told (caddie) Stevie (Williams) 'If we could shoot 31 or 30 on the back nine, we can have a great shot of winning'.

"I felt I needed to put a lot of pressure on Vijay, which I was able to do. It was all smoke and mirrors until today."

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