December 4 2011
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.”