Thu, Dec 14, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Paul Casey, Tiger Woods named as top tour players

PGA HONORS Paul Casey won the European tour's top award for his starring role at the Ryder Cup, while Tiger Woods won in the US after a year of domination

AP , VIRGINIA WATER, ENGLAND AND THOUSAND OAKS, CALIFORNIA

Tiger Woods pictured winning the British Open at the Royal Liverpool Golf Course in Hoylake, England, on July 23.

PHOTOS: AP

World Match Play winner Paul Casey, whose ace at the Ryder Cup helped Europe capture another lopsided victory over the US, has been named player of the year by the PGA European Tour.

Casey won three titles on the tour only to finish behind Padraig Harrington in the money list. With three points, the Englishman was one of the stars of Europe's 18 1/2-9 1/2 victory at Ireland's K Club, however, while Harrington mustered only half a point.

Casey was also very close to finishing top of the money list.

Having won ?1 million (US$1.95 million) to capture the Match Play title at Wentworth, Casey went to the Volvo Masters in the lead. But he was struck down by food poisoning and began with a 5-over 76. He finished tied for 21st while Harrington tied for second to finish top of the money list.

Casey rediscovered his game this year, having gone four months without making a single cut last year.

"To win three times during the 2006 season and play a part in Europe's record-breaking third successive Ryder Cup victory before finishing runner-up to Padraig in the Order of Merit was extremely satisfying, although it goes without saying that I was bitterly disappointed to miss out on the Harry Vardon Trophy," he said.

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods won US PGA Tour player of the year on Tuesday for the eighth time, and the numbers looked familiar. He won multiple majors for the fourth time, and more tournaments than anyone else.

Woods won his first tournament of the year, then finished his season with six consecutive victories. In between, he disappeared from golf for more than two months to mourn the death of his father.

"I knew I had to go through -- like anyone -- the grieving process, and I had never done anything like that before," Woods said. "The hardest thing to do was play golf. Usually, people go to work to get away from a loss like that. But that's when I thought of my dad. He introduced me to the game of golf. He taught me a lot of life lessons on the golf course. When I came back and started working on my fundamentals ... I learned them from my dad."

The award -- also called the Jack Nicklaus Trophy -- is decided by a vote of the players, although the PGA Tour does not disclose the results or even who finished second. The award began in 1990, and no one else has won it more than twice.

Woods, who won eight times, also won the Arnold Palmer Award for leading the money list at US$9.9 million, and he won the Byron Nelson Award for the lowest scoring average at 68.11. The tour's scoring award only requires a minimum of 50 rounds, and Woods played 55.

Jim Furyk won the Vardon Trophy from the PGA of America with an average of 68.86. That award requires at least 60 rounds.

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