Thousand Oaks, CA
It took two years and three weeks but on Sunday, with a massive crowd cheering him on, Tiger Woods restored his roar.
The 14-time major champion ended his long winless streak in a head-to-head duel with Zach Johnson at the Chevron World Challenge that saw Woods rally from a shot back with two holes to play.
Woods found the magic that he has summoned so many times in the past and came up with a pair of closing birdies to overtake Johnson and win the event he hosts for the fifth time.
"It feels awesome whatever it is," Woods said immediately after he rolled a six-footer into the cup for a birdie at the 18th that got him to 10-under par to nip Johnson by a shot. "It feels great. It was fun coming down the stretch."
It was a compelling head-to-head battle at Sherwood Country Club with Johnson, the former Masters champion. Through 15 holes, the two had made it their tournament to win or lose. They were tied at eight-under par and at the par five 16th, both laid up with their second shots on the par five hole.
Johnson applied the pressure to Woods with a wedge shot from 99 yards that stopped 10 feet from the hole. Woods responded from 81 yards with a shot that stayed short of the green on the fringe. Woods missed and Johnson buried his putt. "Zach put it on me at 16," Woods said.
But Woods would respond as he did when he was the world's No. 1 player. At the par three 17th, he hit his tee shot to 10 feet and sank it when Johnson narrowly missed from 12 feet.
All even and both players in the fairway at the 18th, Johnson hit his approach from 161 yards to 10 feet then Woods responded with a brilliant iron shot that stopped six feet away. Johnson missed, then Woods rolled his in the center and celebrated with a trademark fist pump and shout.
"I hit two good putts," Woods said of his finish. "I wanted to give myself a chance. That putt was key," he said of his 10-footer at the 17th.
"I'm obviously disappointed," Johnson said after the duel. "He birdied the last two holes, makes two great putts. You tip your hat to him."
Johnson shot 71 on the day, Woods 69.
Although it is an unofficial event, the tournament still carries points in the Official World Golf Rankings and the hard-fought victory moved Woods from 52nd in the rankings to 21st. and gives him something to build his 2012 season on.
"Feels great," said Woods, who hasn't felt great in a long time.
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