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Tiger Woods voted Player of the Year again

Tiger Woods started off the new season with an award, even though he's not playing. He was the 2002 PGA Tour player of the year for the fourth consecutive season.

Woods won five times on tour last year, including the first two majors, and he won the money title for the fourth straight year. No one else won more than two tour events in 2002.

The award is decided by a vote of the players. The PGA Tour does not reveal vote totals.

"I'm especially proud to have won this award four consecutive times," Woods said. "It's a great year when you win one major championship, so I was really pleased to win two in 2002, plus three other PGA Tour events."

Jonathan Byrd, who won the Buick Challenge against a strong field in the next-to-last tournament of the year, was voted PGA Tour rookie of the year.

Hale Irwin was voted Senior PGA Tour player of the year for becoming the first to earn more than $3 million in one year on the 50-and-older circuit.

Patrick Moore was the Buy.com Tour player of the year after winning three times, while Gene Sauers was the PGA Tour comeback player of the year for picking up his first victory in more than 13 years.

"What a thrill," Sauers said Monday as he got ready to play a practice round at the Mercedes Championships, the season-opening events for 2002 winners. "I've been on top and all the way at the bottom, and now I'm back here."

Woods is a no-show at Kapalua because of knee surgery last month to remove fluid around his ligaments. He is not expected to return to the PGA Tour until the Buick Invitational in San Diego next month.

That might give the rest of the tour a head start on catching him.

Woods has won the Jack Nicklaus Trophy as player of the year five of the last six years. Tom Lehman (1996) and Mark O'Meara (1998) are the only other players to win the award since Woods turned professional.

Woods became the first player since Nicklaus in 1972 to win the first two legs of the Grand Slam, claiming the Masters and U.S. Open by three strokes each.

He also won the Bay Hill Invitational, Buick Open and the American Express Championship in Ireland, his fifth World Golf Championship since the series began in 1999.

Byrd was one of only two rookies to win on tour last year, beating David Toms by one stroke at Callaway Gardens. Byrd finished 39th on the money list and narrowly qualified for his first Masters.

 

 

 

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