On the PGA Tour, Tiger Woods was a runaway winner for Player of the Year. On the LPGA Tour, Annika Sorenstam was undoubtedly a unanimous choice for the same award. But the question remains: Who had the better season?
Ah, that's where the mystery lies. We called on our panel of experts from ESPN.com and Golf World to make their choice on that and other year-end awards for the 2005 season.
Not only did Woods win two major championships, just like Annika, but he was right there in the other two. He also won two WGC events and had one of the most memorable duels of the year to beat Phil Mickelson at Doral.
What a tight race. It's evident we're watching two of the greatest golfers of all-time in the midst of their primes. Woods gets the nod for beating better competition on the PGA Tour (albeit four fewer times).
She won 10 times in 20 LPGA events, and was 1-for-1 in Europe, meaning she won more than half of her starts. No one does that. Throw in two major championships and it was as dominating a year as anyone has ever had.
You can make a case for either player, but the bottom line is that Tiger won against better competition top to bottom, and he did it when he didn't always have his "A" game. That's what separates his season from Annika's.
Most Improved Player
From not even having status on the Nationwide Tour to contending at the U.S. Open, winning three Nationwide events and then winning on the PGA Tour ... it was quite a year for Jason Gore.
Entering the season, Morgan Pressel was a nice junior player who could have a future someday. Well, someday was 2005, as a still-amateur Pressel became one of the top 20 female golfers on the planet, maybe top 10.
Sean O'Hair had never played a PGA Tour event until this year and in fact, had made only four cuts in 18 career Nationwide Tour starts, but he got a victory and banked $2.5 million this year. No bad for a guy who didn't turn 23 until midway through the season.
He won in Texas in '04, but Bart Bryant elevated himself to another level with wins at Memorial and the Tour Championship to go with top-10s at Sony and Bay Hill. You could've even argued that Bryant should have been a captain's pick for the Presidents Cup.
Most Disappointing Player
A knee injury cut his year short, which only added to the frustration. After contending in all four major championships in 2004, Ernie Els was not a factor in the first three, and did not win on the PGA Tour.
Charles Howell III was destined for superstardom, winning on tour at age 23. That was three years ago. Yes, Howell had five top-five finishes in '05, but elite players are judged on victories. He has none since '02.
Yes, an injury forced Els to cut his season short, but no victories in 11 PGA Tour starts and no better than a T-15 in three majors had already made it a disappointing year before he closed it down. Now 36 years old, Els has to decide whether he wants to be remembered as a good player or a great player.
His nonofficial win at the rain-shortened Nissan Open notwithstanding, awesome Aussie Adam Scott didn't deliver the way we expected him to after a year in which he won twice -- including at the Players Championship.
Performance of the Year
Tiger Woods, third round at The Masters. His score of 65 included a stretch of seven straight birdies and gave him a three-shot lead heading into the final round.
Memo to Tom Lehman: Before the 2006 Ryder Cup, show your squad tapes of the U.S. team's performance at the Presidents Cup. The Americans, led by the Human Pep Rally of Chris DiMarco, played brilliantly -- and had fun, too! What a concept.
Woods kicked off the British Open with a 66 and was never really challenged, winning by five strokes to complete the career Grand Slam for a second time. He owns the Old Course even more than he owns Augusta National.
Jack Nicklaus at the British Open. He's probably the only one who could be considered for this category when he didn't even make the cut, but Nicklaus' birdie on his last hole of competitive golf during the second round of the British Open at St. Andrews made me and plenty of others stand up and applaud.
News Event of the Year
Jack Nicklaus at the British Open. The Golden Bear has been threatening to retire for years, but this truly had the air of finality. And he played the part beautifully, birdieing the final hole at St. Andrews, the home of golf.
One year ago, we were not-so-silently wondering what had happened to Old Tiger. One season, six wins and two major titles later, now we know. Woods' on-course resurgence was the story of the year.
Nicklaus was the story of the year because what we witnessed was the end of one of the most remarkable careers in all of sports. If there is one thing for which we all owe Tiger Woods a big thank you, it is for reminding us how incredible Nicklaus' career was. As amazing as Tiger has been, he still has a lot of work to do to catch Jack. Nicklaus' first PGA Tour victory was a major (the 1962 U.S. Open) and his last tour victory was a major (the 1986 Masters). We will always remember that his last hole in a major -- the 2005 British Open at St. Andrews -- was a birdie.
Whether it was turning professional or her disqualification a few days later for a bad drop that was brought to light by a reporter after the fact, Michelle Wie made headlines on and off the course.