THOUSAND OAKS: Zach Johnson salvaged a stunning par at the 72nd hole then edged world number one Tiger Woods at the first playoff hole to win the $3.5-million World Challenge on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion, denied the world number one a sixth victory in the unofficial tournament he hosts for the benefit of his charitable foundation.
After appearing to drown his chances by hitting his second shot into the water at the final hole of regulation—what he called his worst shot of the week—Johnson holed his shot from the drop area 65 yards out to make par and complete a four-under 68.
Woods came up with an impressive par save from a greenside bunker at the 72nd to cap a two-under 70 that left him tied with Johnson on 13-under 275.
But Woods couldn’t salvage par from the same bunker in the playoff, his attempt lipping out.
“I hit a hell of a bunker shot and made par,” he said of the final hole of regulation. “In extra holes I hit another really good bunker shot . . . to get it that close was, I thought, pretty good.”
Woods said he’d been blocking putts all day, and was determined not to make that mistake.
“I just didn’t want to block that one, and I didn’t,” he said. “I over-released it.”
Johnson admitted that after the late dramatics, Woods’ miss was an anti-climactic end to a tournament that drew a record crowd of 24,922 on Sunday to Sherwood Country Club in the rolling hills west of Los Angeles.
“It’s not the way you want it to end,” Johnson said. “I mean, you want to end the tournament with someone making a putt.
“You’ve got to take the good with the bad and somehow they even out, but you don’t want to see it like that, especially when [Woods] hit a really good sand shot.
“You know, he played great,” Johnson added of Woods. “He didn’t make as many putts as I did. That’s all it really was today.”
Sherwood was hosting the tournament for the 14th time, but Woods announced last month the event would move to Isleworth in Florida next year.
Even if he couldn’t give his Southern California fans the win most of them came to see, Woods thought it was an entertaining finale, with Johnson a deserving winner.
“Excluding that last shot on 18 in regulation, he really hit it well coming in with three good approach shots,” Woods said.
“It was pretty exciting, as a player and I’m sure as a spectator. I think everyone was pretty entertained.”
Woods started the day with a two-shot lead over Johnson and led by four after Johnson bogeyed the 10th.
Johnson bounced back with birdies at 11 and 12, and when Woods bogeyed 14 the lead was down to one.
After both birdied 16, Johnson birdied 17 to send them to the 18th tee tied for the lead.
Johnson was safely in the fairway as Woods was in the rough off the tee. From a difficult hillside lie the 14-time major champion found a bunker below the elevated green.
Johnson, however, then hit into the water. He could only laugh when his shot from the drop area took a couple of small hops and spun into the cup.
Americans Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar shared third place, four shots back on 279. Kuchar carded a 67 and Watson posted a final-round 70.
Former US Open champion Webb Simpson was alone in fifth place after a 68 for 281 and defending champion Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland carded a 69 for 283.