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 in Thousand Oaks, Calif., 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.
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
Sweden’s Maria Hjorth won the season-ending LPGA Tour Championship, finishing with an even-par 72 for a one-stroke victory over South Korea’s Amy Yang in Orlando, Fla.
Hjorth had a 5-under 283 total on the Grand Cypress Golf Club course, the highest winning score in relation to par all year except for Paula Creamer’s 3-under victory in the U.S. Open at Oakmont. Hjorth earned $225,000 for her fourth career LPGA Tour victory. Yang closed with a 74.
Yani Tseng became the first player from Taiwan to win the LPGA player of the year award, and South Korea’s Na Yeon Choi won the money title and Vare Trophy for the year’s lowest scoring average.
Nedbank Golf Challenge
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 in Sun City, South Africa. The English star had a 17-under 271 total at the Gary Player Country Club and earned $1.25 million.
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 in Sydney. 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 title Down Under.