THOUSAND OAKS, California (AP) ― Zach Johnson put together the storybook finish at Sherwood on Sunday that for the longest time belonged to Tiger Woods.
Johnson rallied from four shots behind with eight holes to play, holed out from a drop area for par on the last hole to force a playoff, and beat the No. 1 player in golf at the World Challenge when Woods missed a 5-foot par putt on the first extra hole.
“Pretty impressive what he did,” Woods said. “He got me.”
It was an extraordinary sendoff at Sherwood, which hosted the World Challenge for the 14th and final time before it moves to Florida next year.
The big surprise was the winner in so many ways.
“I feel very fortunate, and a bit lucky,” said Johnson, who moved into the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time in his career.
For Woods, it was only the fourth time in his career that he lost a lead of at least two shots going into the final round, the second time at Sherwood. Graeme McDowell overcame a four-shot deficit in 2010 and beat Woods in a playoff.
This was far more dramatic.
They were tied after Johnson hit his tee shot to 4 feet for birdie on the 17th hole. Playing from the left rough, Woods came up just short and watched his approach tumble down the elevated green and into the bunker. Johnson followed with his worst shot of the week, an 8-iron so weak that it came up well short and into the hazard.
Johnson knew Woods had a difficult bunker shot, and if he figured if he could stick his wedge close from 58 yards away in the drop zone, a bogey might be enough to get into a playoff. The ball bounced three times and then spun back a few inches into the cup for an unlikely par and a 4-under 68.
Hong Kong Open
PRO WIN FOR KO: Lydia Ko rallied to win her first title as a professional. The 16-year-old won the Swinging Skirts World Ladies Masters in Taiwan, closing with a 4-under 68 for a three-stroke victory. (AFP-Yonhap News)
HONG KONG (AP) ― Miguel Angel Jimenez successfully defended his Hong Kong Open title Sunday to extend his record as the oldest winner in European Tour history.
The Spaniard won at 49 years, 337 days to break the record he set last year at Hong Kong Golf Club, holing an 18-foot birdie on the first hole of a playoff with Thailand’s Prom Meesawat and Wales’ Stuart Manley.
“I turn 50 next month, but I’m still fit,” Jimenez said. “I stretch every morning. You have to do this to keep up with the younger lot.”
Jimenez won the event for the fourth time to match the tournament victory record set by Taiwan’s Hsieh Yong Yo, the winner in 1963, 1964, 1975 and 1978.
“It just gets better and better. I love Hong Kong and this course,” said Jimenez, also the winner in 2004 and 2007.
“This is my fourth and it was my hardest. When you need to play a playoff, you need to play one more hole, and against two guys also trying to win is hard. But my experience paid off.”
Nedbank Golf Challenge
SUN CITY, South Africa (AP) ― Thomas Bjorn had two eagles in his last nine holes, one brilliant and one a bit lucky, to finish with a 7-under 65 and win the Nedbank Golf Challenge on Sunday.
Overnight leader Jamie Donaldson of Wales lost his three-shot advantage in a final-round 70 and tied for second with Sergio Garcia (65).
Bjorn’s victory was hailed by fans in the galleries on No. 18, waving streams of South African flags in late afternoon sunshine on a day dedicated in the country to prayer and reflection following the death of former President Nelson Mandela.
Bjorn’s 5-iron into No. 10 set up the first eagle to move past Donaldson.