THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell capped off his greatest year with two clutch putts that gave him the greatest comeback ever against Tiger Woods.
McDowell holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole to force a playoff Sunday in the Chevron World Challenge, then made another birdie putt from a little longer away to deny Woods a victory in his final tournament of the year.
Woods, despite losing a four-shot lead, was poised to end a turbulent year with a victory in his final event. Tied for the lead playing the 18th hole at Sherwood Country Club, he stuffed an 8-iron inside 3 feet for a sure birdie. It was vintage Woods, the kind of magic he has he delivered so often in his career.
But it wasn’t the same old outcome. McDowell, with his own reputation as a tough closer, stayed in the game on the 17th by taking a penalty drop on the 18th tee and escaping with bogey. Then after Woods’ great shot, McDowell answered with an all-or-nothing birdie putt.
In the playoff on the same hole, McDowell coaxed in another birdie putt from about 25 feet. Woods had about 15 feet to extend the playoff, but it missed just right of the cup.
McDowell closed with a 3-under 69 to match Woods (73) at 16 under.
McDowell earned $1.2 million.
|LPGA Tour Championship|
ORLANDO, Fla. — Maria Hjorth won the LPGA Tour Championship on Sunday, using a final-round 72 to hold off a field that struggled to even make par.
Hjorth had three birdies and three bogeys on a picture-perfect day at Grand Cypress Golf Club, where only six of 120 players finished below par for the tournament. Third-round leader Amy Yang shot 74 to finish one shot back.
Hjorth finished at 5-under 283 for the tournament, the highest-winning score relative to par all year except for Paula Creamer’s 3-under victory in the U.S. Open at Oakmont. The firm and fluctuating greens at Grand Cypress played similar to the toughest major this week, and near-freezing conditions in the first two rounds only punctuated the challenges.
Yang made a birdie putt on the 18th from about 15 feet over a ridge, forcing Hjorth to sink an 8-foot putt slightly down hill to save par. She did, dropping her putter and lifting her arms in the air in triumph after it rolled in.
Yani Tseng also clinched LPGA player of the year, despite finishing 5 over for the tournament. None of the major season awards even changed hands this week.
The victory was only Hjorth’s fourth LPGA win and first since 2007. It also was a sweet homecoming victory for the Swedish native who now lives a few miles away from the tournament, the first LPGA event in Florida in two years.
The season-ending tournament turned out to be anticlimactic, even though it was never easy.
A week that could’ve shaped up to be one of the closest finishes the LPGA has had in a decade — now that Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam are both retired and every major award was in play — instead ended with a thud:
— Tseng became the first player from Taiwan to win LPGA player of the year.
— South Korea’s Na Yeon Choi won this year’s money title.
— Choi also claimed the Vare Trophy for the year’s lowest scoring average.
— Fellow South Korean Jiyai Shin, who missed the 54-hole cut and was the only one who could unseat Choi on the money list, will keep her spot atop the world rankings. She finished 12 over.
Cristie Kerr also was within striking distance Sunday to be the first American since Beth Daniel in 1994 to claim LPGA player of the year. But her final-round 73 put her at 3 under for the tournament in a tie for third place.
The final round would have only one shining star.
Hjorth was calm and cool on greens that frustrated so many in the field. She made huge putts to save par over and over, perhaps none bigger than a 10-footer on the 16th hole.
That gave her a two-shot cushion over the final two holes, which proved huge on the 18th.
|Nedbank Golf Challenge|
SUN CITY, South Africa — Top-ranked Lee Westwood won the Nedbank Golf Challenge, closing with a 4-under 68 for an eight-stroke victory in the 12-man event.
The English star had a 17-under 271 total at the Gary Player Country Club and earned $1.25 million.
South Africa’s Tim Clark (71) finished second.
SYDNEY — Geoff Ogilvy won the Australian Open for his second professional victory in his home country, closing with a 3-under 69 for a four-stroke victory.
Ogilvy had a 19-under 269 total at The Lakes. The 2006 U.S. Open champion won the 2008 Australian PGA for his only other professional victory Down Under.
Alistair Presnell (67) and Matt Jones (68) tied for second.