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Padraig Harrington favored to win PGA Tour Player of the Year over Tiger Woods

By Doug Ferguson
Associated Press Golf Writer

(AP) — During a break in a recent meeting, PGA Tour executives were asked their choice for player of the year. Half of them chose Padraig Harrington. The other half raised their hands for Tiger Woods.

None received a ballot, which was mailed last week to players for a vote that could show what they regard as relevant.

Topping the list of five nominees were Harrington, the British Open and PGA champion who became only the seventh player since 1960 to win consecutive majors in the same season; and Woods, who won four times in six starts, including the U.S. Open in a playoff, before season-ending knee surgery.

The 16-man Players Advisory Council and four players on the PGA Tour policy board, which compiled the ballot, added FedEx Cup champion Vijay Singh with his three victories, three-time winner Kenny Perry, and a most peculiar selection of Camilo Villegas, who won the final two playoff events.

Why not Anthony Kim, who also had two victories (against full fields), had more top 10s and finished higher on the money list while playing the same number of tournaments?

They would have been better off listing only four names rather than snubbing someone.

Not that it matters.

Players really only have two choices, and this is one case where it might be helpful to have exit polling. Then again, it would really be helpful if the TASS-oriented PGA Tour disclosed the vote totals like every other sport.

Harrington is considered the front-runner based on recent precedence and the value of majors.

"Anytime you win a major championship, it's always going to be a great year," Woods said last year after winning the PGA Championship for his only major that season.

So what does two majors make it?

Since the PGA Tour award began in 1990, no one has won two majors without winning the award. Double major winner Nick Faldo was not a member in 1990 when the inaugural award went to Wayne Levi, who won four times and was second on the money list.

Faldo did win the points-based award from the PGA of America in 1990, although Gary Player won two majors in 1974 when the PGA award went to Johnny Miller and his eight victories.

"If I had been voting, I would have gone with Gary," Miller wrote in the December issue of Golf Digest.

And if Miller were voting this year (he's not), his choice would be Harrington. The Irishman had four other top-five finishes, including a tie for fifth in the Masters. But those majors were his only victories.

The recent precedence for the PGA Tour award is Mark O'Meara in 1998. He won the Masters and British Open at age 41, the oldest player to win two majors in one year. Players voted him over David Duval, who led the tour with four victories, won the PGA Tour money title and the Vardon Trophy for the lowest scoring average.

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