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Tiger makes clean sweep of awards again

Tiger Woods collected another set of trophies Wednesday, the fourth straight season he has swept the major awards on the PGA Tour.

The biggest was the Jack Nicklaus Award as the Tour's player of the year. Woods won five times in 2002, and he became the first player since Nicklaus in 1972 to win the Masters and the U.S. Open in the same season.

Woods also won the Arnold Palmer Award for winning the money title with $6.9 million, and the Byron Nelson Award for leading the Tour with a 68.56 scoring average.

``The Tour is getting deeper and better,'' Woods said. ``I'm looking forward to the challenge.''

Woods is the first player since Tom Watson (1977-80) to win the money title four years in a row. He already is $1.8 million behind Ernie Els this season and hasn't played since having knee surgery Dec. 12.

Woods makes his first start Thursday in the Buick Invitational.

Jonathan Byrd won rookie of the year for winning the Buick Challenge last fall and finishing 39th on the money list, tops among PGA Tour newcomers.

Gene Sauers won the Air Canada Championship for his first PGA Tour victory in 13 years and was voted comeback player of the year. Patrick Moore, a three-time winner on the developmental circuit, was the Buy.com player of the year.

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

Woods has won player of the year five of the last six years. The exception was in 1998, when he won only one time while retooling his swing. The award that year went to Mark O'Meara, his best friend on Tour. O'Meara presented him with the Nicklaus Award.

``He would have won six out of the last six, except for an old guy with gray, balding hair who clipped him one year,'' O'Meara said.

CBS Sports announcer Jim Nantz presided at the ceremony and ended the evening by saying Woods claimed the awards despite ``sub-par audio equipment.''

That was a dig at Phil Mickelson, who said last week that Woods was the only player good enough to overcome the ``inferior'' Nike equipment that Woods plays.

Woods and Mickelson talked about the comments briefly Wednesday morning, and Woods said it was no longer an issue.

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