Tiger birdies final two holes, ends two-year victory drought
THOUSAND OAKS, CALIF. After going more than two years and 26 tournaments without a win, and after so much turmoil in his personal life and with his golf game, Tiger Woods stood over a 6-foot birdie putt Sunday to win the Chevron World Challenge and felt as though nothing had changed.
Finally, the outcome was familiar, too.
Woods poured in the putt to cap off a birdie-birdie finish at Sherwood, close with a 3-under 69 and beat former Masters champion Zach Johnson by one shot. The win ended a drought that lasted 749 days, and might have signaled a change that Woods is on his way back.
He swept his arm across the air, yelled through the din of the gallery and slammed his fist in a celebration that was a long time coming.
Relief? Satisfaction? Vindication?
Woods wasn’t sure, and he didn’t much care.
“It just feels awesome whatever it is,” he said.
Trailing by one shot with two holes to play, Woods came up with two clutch putts. He holed a 15-footer for birdie on the par-3 17th to pull into a tie with Johnson, then hit a 9-iron from 158 yards that landed on the ridge behind the hole and rolled down to 6 feet.
“I’ve been in contention twice this year, which is not very often,” Woods said. “So that’s my third time with a chance to win it. I pulled it off this time.”
It was his 83rd win worldwide in tournaments that award ranking points, but his first since he won the Australian Masters on Nov. 15, 2009, back when he looked as though he would rule golf for as long as he played.
But he crashed his car into a fire hydrant outside his Florida home on Thanksgiving night, and shocking revelations of extramarital affairs began to emerge, which shattered his image, led to a divorce and cost him four major sponsors. Since then, he has changed swing coaches, caddies and endured more injuries, causing him to miss two majors and fail to make the cut in another.
Now, it looks clear that Woods is on an upward path.
“If the man is healthy, that’s paramount,” Johnson said. “I mean, he’s the most experienced and the best player I’ve ever played with. In every situation, he knows how to execute and win.”
Even though those situations have been rare, Woods looked as though he had not forgotten how to win. The only other times he has been in contention this year were the Masters and the Australian Open.
“I felt normal, felt very comfortable,” Woods said. “I’ve been here so many times that, you know, I just feel very comfortable being here in this position. Was I nervous? Absolutely.”
Woods won the Chevron World Challenge, which he hosts for his foundation, for the fifth time. He finished at 10-under 278 and donated the $1.2 million to his foundation.
Woods won’t play again until starting his year in Abu Dhabi at the end of January.
Johnson closed with a 71 and still took home $650,000. Paul Casey, who opened with a 79, had his third straight round in the 60s to finish alone in third at 5 under.