The honour would have been another jewel in the King of Golf's crown, but at the time when he is under intense media scrutiny since being involved in a car accident on Nov 27 and later admitting 'transgressions' in a statement that apparently addressed allegations he cheated on his wife, the award may come as an embarrassment.
Woods, who has decided to take an 'indefinite break' from professional golf to focus on his personal life, received 56 of the 142 votes cast by AP member editors since last month, The New York Post reports.
Other candidates for the award were American cyclist Lance Armstrong, Grand Slam singles tennis king Roger Federer and Olympic gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps.
Currently the World No 1, Woods was the highest-paid professional athlete in 2008, having earned an estimated 110 million dollars from winnings and endorsements.
He has won 14 professional major golf championships, the second highest of any male player, and 71 PGA Tour events, third all time. He has more career major wins and career PGA Tour wins than any other active golfer.
Woods has held the number one position in the world rankings for the most consecutive weeks and for the greatest total number of weeks. He has been awarded PGA Player of the Year a record ten times.
He has been named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year a record-tying four times, and is the only person to be named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year more than once.