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Zach Johnson Stuns Tiger Woods in Playoff to Win World Challenge

Sports Tiger 300x125 Zach Johnson Stuns Tiger Woods in Playoff to Win World Challenge

Tiger Woods (L) and Zach Johnson cross paths on the green at the seventh hole during the final round of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge golf tournament at the Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks. (Photo Credit: Frederick J. Brown)

By Doug Ferguson

Zach Johnson put together the storybook finish at Sherwood that for the longest time belonged to Tiger Woods.

Johnson rallied from four shots behind with eight holes to play, holed out from a drop area for par on the last hole to force a playoff, and beat the No. 1 player in golf at the World Challenge when Woods missed a 5-foot par putt on the first extra hole.

“Pretty impressive what he did,” Woods said. “He got me.”

It was an extraordinary sendoff at Sherwood, which hosted the World Challenge for the 14th and final time before it moves to Florida next year.

The big surprise was the winner in so many ways.

“I feel very fortunate, and a bit lucky,” said Johnson, who moved into the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time in his career.

For Woods, it was only the fourth time in his career that he lost a lead of at least two shots going into the final round, the second time at Sherwood. Graeme McDowell overcame a four-shot deficit in 2010 and beat Woods in a playoff.

They were tied after Johnson hit his tee shot to 4 feet for birdie on the 17th hole. Playing from the left rough, Woods came up just short and watched his approach tumble down the elevated green and into the bunker. Johnson followed with his worst shot of the week, an 8-iron so weak that it came up well short and into the hazard.

Johnson knew Woods had a difficult bunker shot, and if he figured if he could stick his wedge close from 58 yards away in the drop zone, a bogey might be enough to get into a playoff. The ball bounced three times and then spun back a few inches into the cup for an unlikely par and a 4-under 68.

“A little too dramatic for me,” Johnson said.

Woods’ hit a superb bunker shot to 2 feet and matched his par for a 70. They finished on 13-under 275.

Woods was between clubs from the 18th fairway in the playoff and tried a smooth 7-iron that he lost enough to the right that it again found the bunker. He hit an exquisite sand shot, this one sliding 5 feet by the hole, and the par putt spun out of the left side.

Johnson won $1 million and should go to No. 9 in the world.

Woods ended what he called a “damn good year” — five wins, the most of anyone in the world — with a shocking loss to Johnson. Two years ago, Woods ended the longest drought of his career when he went birdie-birdie at Sherwood to beat Johnson by one shot.

 

 

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