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After two years plagued by scandal, injury and swing changes, Tiger Woods finally got the victory that has been eluding him.
Woods came into the final round of the Chevron World Challenge trailing former Masters Champion Zach Johnson by one stroke. The final pairing went back and forth for most of Sunday, until Johnson holed a 12-foot birdie putt on the 16th to take a one-shot lead.
Johnson then watched his birdie put lip out on 17 while Woods birdied the whole to make thing all square going into the final hole.
Both reached the green in two on the par four 18th. Johnson missed his 15-foot birdie putt, leaving the door open for Woods.
Woods, donning his trademark Sunday red and black dress, drained his 6-foot birdie putt, unleashing a wheelhouse fist pump and claiming his first victory since Nov. 2009.
Woods’ triumph raises the trite question: “Is Tiger Back?” Well, for one thing, Woods is now healthy. It seems as if he can finally adjust to the swing changes he and Sean Foley have been trying to implement. Woods also hit his irons longer and crisper than he has in years.
The win isn’t an official PGA Tour victory but does award Woods some Official World Golf Ranking points. Woods moved from No. 52 in the world to No. 21. The most important part of Woods’ play this weekend was his ability to make big shots when he needed to, making clutch birdie putts on 17 and 18.
Psychologically, the victory means a lot. Woods removed a huge weight off his soldiers. He has endured two years of criticism and questions. The win could give Woods the confidence he needs to play consistent, solid golf.
The win isn’t a complete surprise as Woods has shown some signs of life in his past few tournaments. He finished third in the Australian Open and clinched the winning point for the Americans at the President’s Cup by defeating Aaron Baddeley.
Woods still needs to develop some level of comfort with the driver. He’s going to have to be able to pull the club out of the bag in a pressure situation to win majors.
Woods also had too many 3-putts over the course of the tournament. He also tinkered with his grip, a sign he doesn’t feel completely comfortable with his putter.