The PGA TOUR Year in Review

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PGA Tour (75x100)The more things change the more they stay the same. The world's No. 1 golfer put his stamp on the 2007 season with a dominating stretch run.
 
As always, there were prizes (three first-time major champions) and surprises (Gary Player saying he knows some golfers are using performance-enhancing drugs).
 
There was a strong rookie season for one of the up-and-coming American golfers and a dominating win for the Americans at the Presidents Cup.
 
A former major champion started a big turn-around in his game by consulting the stack-and-tilt swing gurus.
 
There were just six players who won more than one event, but only two who won more than twice. And that made for an easy choice for player of the year.
 
PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Eldrick
Let's start at the end of the season when the top player in the game put his mark on the 2007.
 
First, first, tied for second, first and first. Four wins and over $5.65 million in earnings in the season's final five events. If that was all he did this year, he would have taken second on the money list, but of course that wasn't everything.
 
Okay, so everybody else calls him Tiger, but Eldrick is his birth name. Tiger Woods won seven times in 2007 and those victories came in only 16 starts.
 
Woods spread his first three wins over the first five months of the season, winning once in January, March and May before going on a tear in August and September.
 
Oh sure, Woods only won one major (he repeated at the PGA Championship), but he tied for second at the Masters and U.S. Open. In both of those events, he held at least a piece of the lead during the final round but could not close out the win.
 
Tough luck there, Tiger, and better luck next year. At the PGA Championship, Woods won his 13th major, moving within five of Jack Nicklaus' record. He also has 61 career wins, 21 shy of Sam Snead's record of 82.
 
If Woods keeps winning at his current pace, he will pass Snead in 2010 or 2011 at the latest. He currently wins just under 28 percent of his starts per year -- 61 wins in 219 tour starts. He has picked up five major titles in the last three years, so he'll likely break Jack's major record before surpassing Snead.
 
As if all that weren't enough, Woods won two of the four FedExCup playoff events en route to claiming the first-ever FedEx Cup and its $10 million annuity.
 
And to cap off a season in which he won seven times, Woods also became a father for the first time.
 
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR - Brandt Snedeker
Most first-year players try to play as often as they can to improve their status and make sure they qualify for the top-flight events such as the majors and the World Golf Championship events.
 
Coming off a successful 2006 campaign on the Nationwide Tour, Brandt Snedeker wanted to keep his momentum going after a two-win season there.
 
Once on the PGA TOUR, Snedeker wasted no time in collecting a big pay check. He finished third at the Buick Invitational, his third start of the year, and earned more with that finish than he did in '06 on the Nationwide Tour.
 
That was the first of nine checks for Snedeker that earned him over $100,000. He recorded five top-10 finishes and claimed his first PGA TOUR win at the Wyndham Championship, the final event prior to the FedExCup playoffs.
 
Snedeker played in all four playoff events and earned over $154,000 in just those events. That catapulted him to 17th on the money list and a ninth-place finish in the FedEx Cup point standings.
 
The 27 year old did not qualify for the Masters or any of the World Golf Championship events in 2007 and also did not play in the British Open. However, he did play in the season's other two majors.
 
Snedeker played in two majors before 2007, including a tie for 41st at the 2004 Masters when he was an amateur. This year, he shared 23rd at the U.S. Open and tied for 18th at the PGA Championship.
 
Thanks to his win at the Wyndham and his 17th place finish on the money list, Snedeker will be able to play in any event he wants in 2008. If he keeps playing this well, who knows, maybe he will even make his first Ryder Cup team in 2008.
 
SHOT OF THE YEAR - Splash Down
Austin, we have splash down!! OK, so it isn't 'Houston, we have a problem,' nor was it a tournament-winning putt or chip, but it did help set a relaxed tone for a United States win at the Presidents Cup.
 
In the final match during Friday afternoon's Fourball matches, Rory Sabbatini drove the green and had a 10-footer for eagle. David Toms drove into the water and Woody Austin followed by driving his ball to the edge of the water.
 
Austin played his second shot from the edge of a pond and not many remember where the shot went. After hitting the shot, Austin slipped, spun and then did a face plant into the water.
 
The hole was eventually conceded, and the Americans fell 2-down.
 
But the moment will be replayed forever and, in all honesty, it loosened up an American team that was getting manhandled on Day 2 at Royal Montreal. From that point forward, it was all American. The U.S. team swept the morning foursomes matches and never looked back.
 
Austin rebounded from his face plant to birdie the final three holes to give himself and Toms a halve against Trevor Immelman and Sabbatini.
 
The self-deprecating Austin walked down the 14th fairway on Sunday with swimming goggles provided by Barbara Nicklaus, captain Jack Nicklaus' wife.
 
The dip into the water lightened the mood for sure and helped the U.S. cruise by the Internationals to win the Presidents Cup.
 
It's the type of thing you would never see from the U.S. players at the Ryder Cup. Maybe it's time to change that.
 
TOURNAMENT OF THE YEAR - The Masters
We have heard it before and we will hear it again: Tiger Woods has never come from behind to win a major. Woods had his chance again at The Masters, but was unable to pick up his fifth green jacket.
 
Woods teed off in the final pairing with Australian Stuart Appleby. Why is that significant? The last 16 winners at Augusta have come from the final group.
 
Early in the round, Woods actually took the lead for a brief time, but it was not meant to be this time around as he dropped shots on the sixth and 10th.
 
Woods eagled the 13th to get back to plus-three, but he could not pick up and more shots.
 
This time, Zach Johnson forged the magical back-nine run to the green jacket. Johnson, playing two groups ahead of Appleby and Woods, birdied 13, 14 and 16 to climb to even-par.
 
Johnson did stumble to a bogey on the 17th, but a par at the last was enough to secure his first major title.
 
Woods did have one last shot to force a playoff. He needed to hole out from the fairway for eagle at the 18th, but could only knock his shot to 25 feet. He ended two shots back alongside Retief Goosen, who posted his best finish of '07 at Augusta.
 
GOOD YEAR
Phil Mickelson - The only player other than Tiger to win more than two events and that put him second on the money list with over $5.8 million in earnings. Moved back to No. 2 in the world thanks to six top-five finishes in 22 starts.
 
Steve Stricker - For the second straight year, Stricker continued his climb up from golf oblivion. He carded six top-fives and finished fourth on the money list. He also moved to fourth in the world rankings.
 
Zach Johnson, Angel Cabrera and Padraig Harrington - All three won their first major championship this year to move into the top 15 in the world rankings.
 
Mike Weir - From July on he carded four top-10 finishes, including a win at the Fry's Electronics Open. Swing changes early in the year caused him to struggle, but he ended the season with a flourish that included beating Tiger Woods at the Presidents Cup.
 
David Duval - Sure he made the cut in just four of seven starts, but he did so as his ailing wife had to be put on bed rest prior to the birth of their daughter. He and Dudley Hart successfully pushed the tour to include family crisis as part of the medical extension regulations. Both players will be eligible in '08 thanks to that rule.
 
BAD YEARS
Retief Goosen - A tie for second at The Masters seemed to be the start of a good year for Goosen. However, he did not post another top-20 finish the rest of season. His next-best finish was a tie for 23rd at both the British Open and PGA Championship. Fell out of the world top 20 with his down year.
 
Davis Love III - Just three top 10s in 21 starts and only 13 cuts made. Ended the season with a thud as he seriously injured his ankle during a casual round of golf early in the fall. Fell out of the top 50 in the world rankings for the first time in 17 years.
 
Eric Axley - Axley wins the award for most starts (36) but also had the most starts without keeping his PGA Tour card. Axley made the cut in 17 events and only finish 156th on the money list.
 
John Daly - Made the cut in just eight of 24 starts and had nearly as many withdrawals (6) as cuts made. Daly lost his tour card for 2008 after finishing 188th on the money list.
 
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