It's hard to believe 2011 is almost over, and it was sure nice to get a victory! I played a lot of golf late in the year, and it was extremely satisfying to close out the season with a win at my own event, the Chevron World Challenge.
I basically did an exhibition tour right before the Australian Open. I played in Japan, Singapore, Perth and Melbourne, and then I went up to Sydney for the Australian Open. I did some clinics, and it was fun because I had to concentrate a bit because I was putting on exhibitions and had to play well. It was nice to have a semi-competitive environment before I played in the Aussie Open. In Japan, I did an exhibition with JLPGA players that benefited earthquake relief and tsunami relief. The women played great, and it was rewarding doing this event for such a good cause.
The great thing about the Australian Open and The Presidents Cup was that's basically how I've been hitting the ball at home. It was nice to be able to take what I had been doing into a tournament situation and play well. Although I didn't win the Australian Open, I finished third and hit a lot of quality golf shots.
The Lakes Golf Club in Sydney was very challenging. It's very modern and has a good mixture of short and long holes. Royal Melbourne was definitely an old-style course where you can run the ball up, throw the ball up in air and do a variety of different things. And with the green speeds being what they were -- especially the first day when they were running at 14 -- it was a little tough.
When I got to Royal Melbourne for The Presidents Cup, it was quite interesting because the people who questioned me being on The Presidents Cup team were not the players; they wanted me on the team. So when we came together, it was pretty neat to receive a warm reception and see how excited they were to have me be there with them.
It was great for Fred Couples, too. Fred stuck his neck out for me, and I was very grateful that he made me a captain's pick. To be able to secure the clinching point for the U.S. and play as well as I did down there was special for both of us.
As for the team room, it was a great mix of younger guys and older guys. It was pretty interesting to have Fred and assistant captains Jay Haas and John Cook. I've been on Ryder Cup teams with those guys, so it was a different perspective and was pretty cool.
I've heard people question whether Fred would be a good Ryder Cup captain, and I just don't get it. I think that Fred is a great captain. Whether it's The Presidents Cup or the Ryder Cup, it doesn't matter.
The way he keeps us loose and how much fun we have -- it's just great to play for him. He's a lot more competitive than people realize. He just doesn't show it. He shows it with us around, but the public doesn't see it.
Matt Kuchar dominated in pingpong again. It's not even close. He is far and away the best player. Nobody can beat the guy.
I came home and played in my Foundation's tournament at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and I'm so excited to have won for the fifth time. Equally important, I gave the $1.2 million first prize to my Foundation's programs, which will help get more underserved kids into college.
Coming into the week, I was basically just trying to continue doing what I was doing in Australia, and I did that. I hit the ball just as well and made a few putts. It was tough playing against Zach Johnson on Sunday afternoon because he doesn't back up. He put a lot of heat on me and had the lead starting the final round, so I had to go and get him.
Zach hit an absolutely great shot on the 14th hole on Sunday, where he nipped a 60-degree sand wedge on the green and was able to save par. It was a big momentum switch. If he had tried to putt it, he can't keep it on the green. If he goes at the hole, there's a little fall-off on the left part of the green. If he had played short with a putt, the best he could do was about 15 feet. I thought if he made bogey there and I made birdie, it would be a two-shot swing. It was a big moment.
The shot that he played -- that little spinner in there -- he had to cut it to hold the hill. When he made contact, I could tell from the sound that he pulled it off. Man, that was impressive. You have to expect him to pull it off, especially a guy with his talent.
I felt very comfortable in the tournament from start to finish. Golf doesn't change. You should be all-systems go on the first day until the last day. I felt nervous coming down the stretch -- absolutely! You want to feel nervous because it means you care. When I stop getting nervous, it's time for me to quit.
I really hit three nice shots the last two holes. And then I made two nice putts on top of that. The best part about winning was the reinforcement that all the training and hard work I have put in with Sean Foley paid off.
It was also nice to get my first 'W' with Joe LaCava on the bag. He's been awesome. He's definitely very calm out here. That's why it's fun to be out there with him. We just have a great time. We do talk a lot of sports. We talk a lot about the New York Yankees and New York Giants, his favorite teams. We just have a ton of fun out there. Joe also spent some time with one of our Earl Woods Scholars who was serving as a course reporter at Sherwood. She wanted to interview a caddie, so we set her up with Joe, and I am grateful he took time to do that.
Speaking of Sherwood, one of our participants -- Keegan Bradley -- was named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, and Luke Donald was picked as Tour Player of the Year. I'd like to congratulate them both. They're two outstanding players and equally good guys. Well done.
I just visited our newest Learning Center campus at Murray Middle School in Stuart, Fla. It's our fourth campus, and our first in Florida. It was a great afternoon, and I'm very pleased with how this model is allowing us to expand. Plus I always enjoy getting to spend an afternoon focused on science -- especially our Forensics class.
I did want to say the response I have received from the fans during my recent travels has just been fantastic. The people in Asia have always supported me my entire career. There's a level of excitement over there in golf; it's growing rapidly in these countries and other areas I went to, so it was great to be a part of it.
And of course, the fans in SoCal were tremendous. That's where I grew up, and it's always nice to play well in front of the hometown crowd. The reception I received coming up to the 18th green on Sunday at Sherwood Country Club felt very good. Really, since I've turned pro, fan support everywhere has been amazing. I want everyone to know how much that means to me. Needless to say, we did a little celebrating.
I debuted my new golf bag sponsor at my event in California. I'm very excited about Fuse Science and obviously the patents they have coming up and level of technology they're going to introduce. They're a game-changer in the energy, medicine and vitamin field, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it on the ground floor. Look for their new products to be introduced early next year.
I going to take a couple weeks off and let my body recover a little bit. And then I will start getting ready for 2012. My first event will be in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. HSBC has been a big supporter of my Foundation, and it sounds like they're going to have an excellent field. I've been to Dubai quite a few times, but never to Abu Dhabi. I'm looking forward to the experience.
Before I begin the new season, I will attend the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2 in Arizona to watch Stanford play Oklahoma State. Cardinal head coach David Shaw asked me to be an honorary team captain, and I happily accepted. For Coach Shaw to think highly enough of me to be involved in the game and be able to talk to his kids is very special.
I'm very close to Stanford. They've done so much for me in my life. Everyone knows Coach Shaw and I had a class together. We go way back. It's neat to be able to come back and help him any way that I can.
That's it for 2011. Thanks to everyone for your continued support.
Happy holidays and best wishes in the new year.