Woods closes out the year with a 7-shot win
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) -Ten weeks later, nothing has changed with Tiger Woods and the rest of golf.
Woods won the final golf tournament of the year Sunday, closing with a 4-under 68 to match the tournament record at the Target World Challenge and set a record for the largest margin of victory, by seven shots over Masters champion Zach Johnson.
Woods had not played since Sept. 30 at the Presidents Cup, but he didn't show much rust in winning his tournament for the fourth time and becoming the first player to win in consecutive years.
``Doesn't help us, does it?'' Colin Montgomerie said of Woods' long break. ``If he took a bloody year off, it would help. Never mind 10 weeks.''
Johnson closed with a 68, but the only challenge came from Jim Furyk.
Furyk got within two shots after nine holes, but the tournament changed abruptly on the 10th. Woods holed a 12-foot birdie putt, and Furyk three-putted for bogey from 4 feet on a downhill putt.
``Jimmy put a ton of heat on me the front nine,'' Woods said. ``The whole tournament switched on the 10th. That was a big two-shot swing there.''
Woods finished at 22-under 266, tying the tournament record first set by Davis Love III in 2000. He earned $1.35 million, which he will donate to his Tiger Woods Foundation. Johnson, shut out at his first Skins Game last month, earned $840,000 for second. Furyk closed with a 71 and finished third, earning $570,000.
For the second straight day, Furyk made Woods sweat, even if it was only a drop.
Woods was six shots clear until a two-shot swing on the seventh hole, when Furyk made birdie and Woods three-putted for his first bogey. Furyk birdied the next hole, and Woods dropped a shot on the ninth when he failed to save par from a bunker.
Suddenly, the lead was two shots going to the back nine, and Furyk immediately applied pressure with a wedge that he hit with no spin to about 4 feet above the flag. Woods hit wedge that spun back 12 feet below the cup, and that made all the difference.
Woods calmly made the birdie putt, while Furyk's putt slid by the cup and rolled 4 feet by. He slapped at the face of his putter, then missed the par putt for a shocking two-shot swing.
Woods' lead was back to four, and he kept that margin until the par-3 15th.
Furyk was three shots behind Saturday until hitting 6-iron into the water. The final round was no different. Furyk found the water again for double bogey, and he was back to where he started, six shots behind.
The only question then was the margin of victory, and whether Rory Sabbatini made it safely to Hawaii.
Sabbatini, who was in last place going into the final round, withdrew from the 16-man field Sunday morning. He told the PGA Tour he was pulling out for ``personal reasons,'' but his agent later said it was due to shin splints.
A locker room attendant said Sabbatini told him Saturday night he was leaving for Maui, and tournament officials were still looking for his courtesy car late Sunday afternoon.
The South African still received $170,000 for last place, but perhaps lost some respect along the way.
``I think I could have toughed it out one more round,'' Mark Calcavecchia said. ``I don't think the fans missed him.''
Told that Sabbatini's agent said the reason was shin splints, Fred Couples wasn't buying.
``Of course, he did,'' Couples said. ``And Roger Clemens' agent said he didn't do steroids.''
It certainly had no bearing on the tournament. Woods hasn't been seen at a golf tournament in 10 weeks, and it was as though he never left. His swing wasn't as polished as it was the first two rounds, but it was no different from his summer surge when it counted.
``I took four weeks off and struggled,'' Paul Casey said after finishing 21 shots behind. ``We have a saying in England that he was Rolls-Roycing it. You fire up the car and it purrs perfectly. I'm very envious.''
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