Tiger Woods returned to the winner's circle for the first time in two years by making two late birdies to overtake Zach Johnson in Sunday's final round of the Chevron World Challenge.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Tiger Woods is a winner again.
Two years removed from his last victory, Woods shot a 3-under 69 Sunday at Sherwood Country Club to beat Zach Johnson by a stroke.
“It felt good,” said Woods, who birdied his final two holes to turn a one-shot deficit into his first victory since the 2009 JBWere Masters in Australia.
Trailing by a shot after Johnson birdied the par-5 16th, Woods poured in a 15-footer on the par-3 17th to pull even. As the crowd roared so did Woods with an emphatic fist pump. One hole later, he did it again.
Woods stuck his approach shot to six feet after Johnson hit his to 12 feet. After Johnson’s birdie attempt missed, Woods settled in behind his ball and calmly rolled it in before an uppercut fist pump.
“No, not at all,” Johnson said without hesitation when asked if he was surprised that Woods finished birdie-birdie for the win. “I felt like I had my game going for the most part. [He] birdies the last two holes, makes two great putts. You tip your hat.”
The victory is the 83rd of Woods’ career, and his first in 749 days. It should also move Woods inside the top 25 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Six months ago, this would have been hard to imagine for Woods. He’d just pulled out of THE PLAYERS Championship with a knee injury and questions swirled about his future.
“The middle of summer, when I’m on crutches and I’m on the couch, that was tough,” Woods said. “It was hard.”
What wasn’t hard for Woods was being in contention and executing the shots he’s become so accustomed to. Woods said he felt comfortable, and it showed when he answered Johnson’s birdie with one of his own and then a 9-iron on the final hole to set up the winning putt.
“I’m pleased with the way I’m able to fix my swing out there,” Woods said. “When the pressure was on the most the last two holes I hit three of the best shots I’ve hit all week.”
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Tiger Woods and Zach Johnson are again tied atop the leaderboard here at the Chevron World Challenge after Woods rolled in a 15-footer for birdie on the par-3 17th, where he gave an emphatic fist pump after the putt fell.
It was the first birdie for Woods since the 11th hole and came one hole after he’d lost a share of the lead following a birdie by Johnson on the par-5 16th.
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Zach Johnson now leads the Chevron World Challenge by one after a birdie on the par-5 16th, where he rolled in a 12-footer after Tiger Woods’ birdie attempt from just off the front of the green slid past the hole.
Only the par-3 17th and par-4 18th stand between Johnson and the win now with Woods trying to win for the first time in two years.
Woods has made birdie just once over the last two holes this week. That was in the opening round when he birdied the 17th. A day later he bogeyed the same hole. He has nothing but pars on 17 and 18 the rest of the week.
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- A year ago, Tiger Woods birdied the final hole of regulation to force a playoff with Graeme McDowell. If Woods wants to end a two-year winless drought, he might need another birdie.
Woods and Zach Johnson are tied at 8 under with only three holes to play. One of those holes is the par-5 16th - -and Woods has at times struggled with the par-5s this week, especially in the third round when he bogeyed three of the four on the course.
Sunday, however, Woods is 2 under with birdies on two of the three so far. Johnson, meanwhile, has birdied all three par-5s today.
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Tiger Woods is six holes away from his first win in two years -- if he can hold onto the one-shot lead he has over Zach Johnson.
Woods briefly had a two-shot advantage after back-to-back birdies on Nos. 10 and 11. but he gave one back with a bogey on No. 12. Woods has not played the last six holes at Sherwood particularly great this week with four bogeys, one double bogey and two birdies.
Johnson, meanwhile, is 1 over on the day, though he’s parred each of his last four holes.
Paul Casey is 3 under on his round and within three of the lead but he has just two holes left.
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Tiger Woods and Zach Johnson have reached the back nine at Sherwood Country Club, where they are tied for the lead at 7 under after both dropped a shot at the ninth.
Woods has been up and down all day and has just one birdie. Ditto Johnson, who is 1 over on the day after beginning the round with a one-shot lead.
Unlike Saturday, today's conditions are much calmer so it's a little surprising neither has been able to take advantage of a near wind-less day.