THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- The magic is back.
Tiger Woods birdied the final two holes Sunday to catch and overtake Zach Johnson and win the Chevron World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif. It was his 83rd worldwide victory and first since Nov. 15, 2009 when he won the Australian Masters, a span of 749 days and 26 official events.
"It feels awesome," said Woods, who captured the tournament for the fifth time. "It was a lot of fun coming down the stretch."
Johnson, who began the final round with a one-stroke lead over Woods, fell two behind early on the back nine and finally pulled ahead with a 13-foot birdie putt at the par-5 16th hole. But Woods drained a clutch 16-foot birdie putt at the par-3 17th hole to tie him.
"If I don't make that putt it's in Zach's control," Woods said. "That putt was huge."
At the par-4 18th, Johnson hit a nice approach shot 15 feet right of the hole, while Woods flagged his second shot six feet behind the cup.
Johnson missed and Woods poured his birdie putt into the center of the hole, pumping his right fist and tipping his black hat to the massive gallery gathered around the green.
"It was incredible to have them out here," Woods said of his cheering, supportive fans. Woods closed with a 3-under-par 69 and finished at 10-under 278. Johnson shot 71 and finished second at 279, while Paul Casey was third at 283.
"He made two great putts," said Johnson. "You just tip your hat. I'm proud of how I handled the situation and continued to fight."
After two windy days, conditions were calm and sunny Sunday. Woods and Johnson both birdied the par-5 second hole in what basically boiled down to match play. Woods pulled even with an up-and-down par from the right bunker at the par-3 third hole when Johnson bogeyed.
Woods took his first lead at the par-4 fourth with a long two-putt, while Johnson bogeyed again. But his advantage didn't last long, Johnson catching him with a birdie at the par-5 fifth.
Both players parred the next two holes, then bogeyed the difficult par-3 eighth. Woods and Johnson also tied the par-4 ninth with pars, setting the stage for a dramatic back-nine battle.
Woods regained the lead with a short birdie putt at the par-4 10th hole, hitting a perfectly-judged wedge from the right rough three feet behind the hole. He increased his lead to two strokes with a two-putt birdie putt from 45 feet at the par-5 11th hole.
But a poor 6-iron and indifferent bunker shot led to a bogey at the par-3 12th and Johnson parred to close within a stroke. Woods hit a nice drive at the par-5 13th but miss-hit his second shot with an iron and came up just short of the green. From there, he chipped eight feet below the cup and couldn't convert, and Johnson tied him again with a 15-foot birdie putt.
Both players parred 14 and 15, before Johnson seized the lead with his birdie at 16. Woods, who hadn't made a putt all day, watched Johnson narrowly miss an 18-foot birdie putt at 17 on a similar line, then calmly stroked in his right-to-left birdie putt, pumping his right first. He also gave a big bear hug to new caddie Joe LaCava.
Last year, Woods lost the tournament on the first hole of a sudden death playoff against Graeme McDowell, the latter sinking a birdie putt at 18. This time, Woods made sure there was no playoff, confidently rolling in the winning putt to snap a two-year winless drought and signaling that his game his back after overcoming left knee and Achilles injuries.
Woods earned $1.2 million for the victory, which he was expected to donate to the Tiger Woods Foundation, one of the benefactors of the tournament. Coming into the event, Woods had donated all of his more than $7.5 million in earnings to the foundation.