Woods Reclaims No1 and More in 2005

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PGA TourEntering the 2005 season, there were many questions surrounding Tiger Woods and his golf game. He answered them all - and then some. After the season ended, those who had begun the year by questioning Woods were wondering where his 2005 season ranked against his great run in 1999 and 2000.
 
Woods wasn't the only story, though. There were plenty of youngsters stepping into the foreground, and of course the United States claimed the Presidents Cup, thanks to the great play of Chris DiMarco (4-0-1).
 
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
One year after losing the top spot in the world rankings, Tiger Woods quickly made a statement in 2005 by saying that he would not stand for complacency. He got off to a hot start and let it be known he was out to regain the top spot in the world.
 
The 29-year-old posted four rounds in the 60s at the winners-only Mercedes Championship in Hawaii to take third place. And Woods made one of his main sponsors happy as he won the Buick Invitational a few weeks later.
 
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods returned to his familiar roles of Masters champion and World No. 1.
The win was his first in 15 months in a stroke-play event. As the tour headed to the East Coast for the first time, Woods once again proved he was out to regain the top spot in the world.
 
He fired rounds of 63-66 on the weekend at the Ford Championship at Doral to top one of his main rivals, Phil Mickelson. Vijay Singh, like Mickelson, carded four rounds in the 60s, but it was still not enough as the Fijian wound up five back.
 
Woods posted a pair of pedestrian finishes heading into the season's first major, the Masters.
 
With the green jacket on the line, Woods outdueled his Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup teammate, Chris DiMarco, in a magnificent final-day duel. That will be covered in detail later.
 
The biggest news that came with his fourth Masters victory was the top spot in the world rankings. Woods overtook Singh with this, his third win of 2005.
 
Woods showed he was human a little more than one month later when, for the first time in seven years, he missed the cut at the EDS Byron Nelson Championship. This was the wake-up call he needed.
 
Heading into the summer, Woods heated up with the weather. In June, he tied for third at Jack Nicklaus' event, the Memorial. He came back with a second-place finish two weeks later at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst.
 
Woods headed to Illinois for the Western Open, where he is a three-time champion. He was 14-under par over his final three rounds, but that wasn't enough to overcome his opening-round 73 as he fell short of Jim Furyk.
 
With the Nicklaus retirement party in full swing around the Old Course, Woods again conquered St. Andrews for his second British Open Championship crown. Nicklaus had also played his last competitive round at Augusta earlier in the season.
 
Woods plowed into the latter part of the summer with a tie for second, behind Singh, at the Buick Open.
 
At the season's final major, Woods posted three straight rounds in the 60s. However, it was not enough again as his first round was what did him in. He shared fourth place at the PGA Championship behind Mickelson. Lefty won the Monday finish with an up-and down-birdie on the 72nd hole, thanks to one of his patented flop shots.
 
Woods, closing his 10th year on tour, has dominated two sets of events since joining the tour. The first set, obviously, is the four majors. The other set of events is the World Golf Championships.
 
He won the second and third WGC events of the season, the NEC Invitational and the American Express Championship. He has now won those two events four times apiece.
 
Once again, Woods missed a cut, this time at the FUNAI Classic. His two missed cuts in 2005 doubled his career total.
 
Nonetheless, Woods closed the season with a second-place finish at the Tour Championship. With his swing changes complete, Woods collected six wins among his 13 top-five finishes in 2005 and easily won the money title, finishing more than $2.6 million ahead of Singh.
 
Money title - check. Two majors - check. Top spot in the world rankings - check. Mission accomplished for Woods.
 
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Entering the 2005 season, there were plenty of fresh faces on the PGA Tour - some young, some not so young. But one youngster with an interesting background broke through as one of the best stories of the season.
 
Sean O'Hair burst onto the scene early in the season, but didn't have much success in missing three of his first six cuts. It took a stop on the Nationwide Tour to get his game on track.
 
The 23-year-old took a pit stop at the Louisiana Open in March, when the PGA Tour was at the Players Championship, and posted a second-place finish. O'Hair had made his previous two cuts on the PGA Tour, but the confidence from Louisiana propelled him to stretch that string of made cuts to nine consecutive events.
 
Back in the Bayou state, O'Hair notched his second top-20 finish of the season as he shared 14th place at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
 
Then, playing in his fourth straight event, O'Hair became a household name at the Byron Nelson Championship. Not to be overshadowed by Tiger Woods missing his first cut in many years here, O'Hair carded four rounds in the 60s to post a 14-under par total of 266.
 
He was passed down the stretch by Ted Purdy, who closed with a 65. O'Hair, however, earned enough money with his second-place finish to secure his tour card for the following season.
 
While being highlighted throughout the final two rounds, O'Hair's background garnered much of the attention. His father urged him to turn pro after his junior year in high school and he spent the following years toiling on mini tours.
 
There were many stories about how his father drove him to work harder to become a better player. The story about how things transpired over those years became as much a story as his golf.
 
O'Hair, possibly caught up in all the attention from his strong finish at the Nelson, finished outside the top 30 and missed a cut in his next five starts.
 
Then, things really got crazy. He fired four rounds in the 60s, including a six-under 65 in the final round, to win the John Deere Classic. With a little help from the White House and John Deere officials, O'Hair secured a passport to go play the following week at the British Open.
 
O'Hair made it across the pond in time for a practice round with U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman. Brimming with confidence, O'Hair tied for 15th in his first ever major.
 
Sean O
Sean O'Hair took home a PGA Tour title and earned a spot in the Tour Championship in his rookie year.
He came back to the U.S. to card his third top-10 of the season at the Buick Open. O'Hair made the cut at his second major, the PGA Championship, but struggled in round three and finished well down the leaderboard.
 
O'Hair only managed one top-20 finish in his next five starts. However, he closed the season with a share of 10th at the Chrysler Championship and a 12th-place finish at the Tour Championship.
 
The season was a total success for O'Hair as he finished in the top 20 on the money list and climbed from virtually unranked to within the top-50 players in the world rankings.
 
SHOT OF THE YEAR
Back to Augusta National Golf Club for the shot of the year. Though it was not the longest shot of the season, it surely was the most dramatic.
 
Tiger Woods, fully entrenched in a battle with Chris DiMarco, missed the green long at the par-3 16th. DiMarco was on the putting surface and had a decent look at birdie.
 
Woods would forge one the great turnarounds in major history, though. He pitched his chip up a slope and watched as his ball took that slope and rolled back towards the cup.
 
Slowly the ball trickled towards the cup, and after a dramatic pause on the lip, it fell into the hole. The ball did not have the help of the course blowing up, a la Caddyshack, but the roar from the crowd cheering the miraculous shot may still be reverberating through the Augusta pines. And that leads us to...
 
TOURNAMENT OF THE YEAR
Surprise, the Masters. Chris DiMarco has not won a PGA Tour event since 2002, but that doesn't mean he hasn't been close. With Tiger Woods on the verge of blowing a final-round lead in a major for the first time ever, DiMarco was right there to apply the heat.
 
With the third round needing to be completed Sunday morning, Woods reeled off seven straight birdies, three at the start of the day Sunday, to lead entering the final round. Those birdies during round three and his miraculous birdie chip on the 16th in the final round were all needed.
 
Woods tripped to back-to-back bogeys from the 17th and almost lost in regulation as DiMarco nearly holed his chip shot on 18 from in front of the green. With Woods bogeying the hole and DiMarco saving par, it was off to a playoff.
 
Back to the 18th tee the duo went. DiMarco found the short grass off the tee, and like regulation, spun his approach shot off the front of the green. Woods also was in the fairway and knocked his second shot to 14 feet.
 
DiMarco once again nearly chipped in, but settled for a tap-in par. Woods made sure things would go no further. He drained his slick birdie effort to collect his fourth green jacket.
 
GREAT YEARS
One year after winning his first major championship, Phil Mickelson made it two straight years with a major. He claimed four titles, the biggest of which was the PGA Championship. The four wins also propelled him to third on the money list.
 
It seems hard to put someone who hasn't won since 2002 on this list, but Chris DiMarco went 4-0-1 at the Presidents Cup and made the clinching putt to boot. Outside of that, he was seventh on the money list and notched six top-five finishes.
 
Bart Bryant continued to make his mark at the age of 42 and now 43. Early in his career. he appeared in at least one event in 12 years and had never posted a top-three finish. This year he won the Memorial and the Tour Championship, giving him three wins in the last two years. He ended in the top 10 on the money list and moved inside the top 25 in the world rankings.
 
BAD YEARS
It is always hard to pick on guys, and we are taking three former major champions to task for their poor seasons. Mike Weir was a playoff winner at the 2003 Masters, but this year he missed nine cuts and had just two top-five finishes. He fell outside the top 50 on the money list and is barely hanging inside the top 50 in the world rankings.
 
Another major winner from 2003 is struggling to regain that winning form. Ben Curtis claimed the claret jug that year, but he only made eight cuts this season in 24 starts and finished outside the top 125 on the money list with just two top-10 finishes.
 
It was just three short years ago when Rich Beem held off Tiger Woods at Hazeltine National for the PGA Championship title. Beem, however, made just eight cuts in 26 starts in 2005. He had tumbled all the way to 232nd in the world after climbing as high as 21st after his major breakthrough.

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