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.
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.
The win moved him from No. 52 to No. 21 in the world ranking, and likely will send expectations soaring for 2012.
NEDBANK GOLF CHALLENGE: At Sun City, South Africa, Lee Westwood shot a 1-over 73 and held off Robert Karlsson for a two-shot win at the Nedbank Golf Challenge on Sunday. The No. 3-ranked Westwood retained his Sun City title with a 15-under 273 total after just two birdies on the final day. Westwood threw his ball into the galleries on No. 18 after beating out Sweden's Karlsson (68), who made seven birdies in a final-round charge but also dropped shots at Nos. 1, 8 and 15. American Jason Dufner (69) tied for third with Graeme McDowell (70) at 11 under, while top-ranked Luke Donald was 10 shots off the pace on his return from a five-week layoff.Comment on this story
PGA QUALIFYING SCHOOL: Daniel Summerhays fired a 4-under-par 68 Sunday and improved his position at the PGA Tour Qualifying Tournament at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif. Going into today's final round of the 108-hole tourney, Summerhays stands in a tie for 13th place at 9-under-par 351. He needs to finish in the top 25 to earn his PGA card for the 2012 season. The Farmington native and ex-BYU golfer played on the PGA Tour in 2011, but didn't earn enough money to keep his exempt status. He likely needs a round of even par or better today to assure staying in the top 25. Another former BYU golfer, Dean Wilson, fell back in his bid to earn his PGA card. Wilson started the day in a tie for 15th place, but struggled to a 4-over-par 76. That puts him at 2-under-par 358 in a tie for 63rd place and in need of a low round Monday to jump into the top 25.
HONG KONG OPEN: Rory McIlroy rallied to win the Hong Kong Open, holing out from a greenside bunker on the final hole Sunday for a 5-under 65 and a two-stroke victory. The 22-year-old U.S. Open winner from Northern Ireland, three strokes behind Alvaro Quiros entering the final round at Hong Kong Country Club, finished at 12-under 268.