Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson and South African Ernie Els were named finalists Tuesday for the 2010 US PGA Tour Player of the Year award.
The Jack Nicklaus Trophy will go to a first-time winner when the recipient is announced Dec. 4. Finalists were nominated by the player advisory council, with players who made at least 15 starts eligible to vote on a winner.
Former world No. 1 Tiger Woods, a 14-time major champion, had dominated the balloting since 1997, the year he captured his first major title by winning the Masters in record-smashing fashion.
Woods, chasing the all-time record 18 won by Nicklaus, won the award 10 times, his streak being broken only by Mark O’Meara in 1998, Fiji’s Vijay Singh in 2004 and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington in 2008.
But this year, Woods went winless in the wake of a sex scandal that led to a five-month hiatus from golf, a divorce from Elin Nordegren and the loss of his No. 1 ranking to England’s Lee Westwood after a five-year reign.
Els made his claim in March with victories at the World Golf Championships event at Doral and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He finished atop the US PGA regular season playoff qualifying points standings.
Mickelson is the only major winner among the finalists, winning his fourth such crown at the Masters.
Furyk won the season-ending Tour Championship as well as PGA playoff crown. He also won the Heritage and Transitions titles and finished second on the money list.
Kuchar won the money title as well as the Vardon Trophy. He captured the Barclays title during the PGA playoffs and led the tour in top-10 finishes, including a share of 10th at the PGA Championship and sixth at the US Open.
Johnson also had top-10 efforts at the US Open and PGA and won at Pebble Beach as well as the BMW Championship.