Tiger Woods loses his own tournament in playoff
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- The final California leg of the tournament known as Tiger Woods' invitational, the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, was taken from Woods' grasp by Zach Johnson.
Four strokes behind Woods with eight holes to play Sunday, Johnson caught Woods and beat him on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff before a record crowd of more than 24,000 at Sherwood Country Club, about 40 miles west of Los Angeles.
Johnson shot a 4-under-par 68, two shots better than Woods, to tie him with a 72-hole score of 13-under 275.
In regulation, Johnson made a miraculous par on the downhill 444-yard 18th. He holed a 58-yard shot from a drop zone after hitting into a water hazard. Woods had to get up and down from a greenside bunker for his par 4.
In the playoff, also at the 18th, Woods landed in the same bunker but missed a 5-footer for par.
"It was just a bad swing," Johnson said of his last full shot in regulation that plunked into a pond. "I got caught up in the moment. Certainly, the next shot was a little too dramatic for me, but I was lucky to hit that one in.
"Once he hit into the bunker, I'm just trying to make a 5."
The tournament moves to the Orlando area next year and Woods, a five-time winner of this event, said he was emotional during play on the final holes.
"I was trying hard to win," he said, "but the last three iron shots Zach hit [on 16, 17 and 18] were so impressive. I don't know how each didn't go into the hole."
The last one did, of course, sending the tournament to the playoff, and he birdied 16 and 17.
Matt Kuchar (68) and Bubba Watson (70) tied for third at 9-under 279.
Woods, who turns 38 on Dec. 30, said a re-shafted driver had him thinking about PGA Tour events this winter and spring.
"I drove the ball great this week," he said. 'I found a nice driver, and I'm pleased with the changes that I found in the driver. Changing the shaft really made a big difference."
Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion, won $1 million of the $3.5-million purse.
"I guess it was pretty boring early," Johnson said of the final round. "It was a little bit too much drama at the end. But you know I feel very fortunate to be a champion."