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Woods Named PGA Tour Player of the Year; Spieth Takes Rookie Honors
In a vote by his peers, Tiger Woods was named PGA Tour Player of the Year on Friday. In 2013 the 14-time major champion accumulated five victories - bringing his overall total to 79, three behind all-time leader Sam Snead - en route to receiving the Jack Nicklaus Award for the 11th time in his storied career.
This was the third time Woods hadn't won a major in the same year as his POY award; his most recent major title came in the 2008 U.S. Open. Because of that lack, some writers opined that Phil Mickelson - winner of the British Open and the Waste Management Open in February - was the favorite for the annual honor.
But no one won more than two tournaments this year, and among Woods' five titles were two World Golf Championships and the Players Championship. He finished the season ranked No. 1 in the world and led the money list with $8,553,439.
"It's been an incredible year to have won five times, two of those World Golf Championships and one Players," Woods told reporters on a conference call. "It's been just a fantastic year all around. It's also an incredible feeling to be voted by your peers, and to have that type of respect is something that's very humbling."
The PGA Tour does not reveal the percentage of votes won or even who finished second.
Woods hasn't received the award since 2009, a time when he endured personal upheaval, a divorce, injuries and a major swing change. "I know how hard it is," Woods said of getting back on top of the heap.
"I've had to work my way back from injuries on numerous occasions throughout the years. These last couple years is no exception to that. There were a lot of people saying I could never win again, and two years later I've got eight wins on our tour.
"I'm very proud of where I've come from, from being ranked outside the top 50 to being ranked where I am now, and to have had the success that I've had this year just makes it all the more rewarding."
Also on Friday Jordan Spieth was named the Tour's Rookie of the Year. The 20-year-old from Dallas began the year playing on sponsors' exemptions but quickly showed he belonged.
He emerged from a three-way sudden-death playoff to win for the first time in the John Deere Classic in July, and in 23 starts had 13 top-25 finishes and nine top-10s, including three runners-up, en route to earning a hefty $3,879,820 and ending up 10th on the season's money list.
"I don't know if it's a `pinch me' moment yet," said Spieth, who, thanks to his outstanding season, was selected by captain Fred Couples for the U.S. Presidents Cup team, which will compete against the Internationals next week at Muirfield Village in Ohio. "I think my mind is still really on next week."
Spieth said he'll be concentrating more on major championships in the upcoming years now that his future is secured. "I think next year I'm really going to focus on those," said Spieth, now 21st in the world golf ranking.
"Maybe build a schedule or game plan around how to have success and maybe compete at those four events, and I think that would be a better year for me."
Thanks to a 65 at East Lake in the final round of the Tour Championship last Sunday, Steve Stricker edged Woods for the PGA Tour's Byron Nelson Award for lowest scoring average. That honor is different from the PGA of America's Vardon Trophy, which went to Woods (who also was awarded the PGA of America's Player of the Year earlier this week). Originating in 1937, the Vardon Trophy requires 60 rounds (instead of 50 for the Byron Nelson Award) with no incomplete rounds.