Zach Sinks Tiger In Playoff
By Torleif Sorenson on 12/9/13

Not all of golf's silly-season unofficial events are worthless television. At the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, Tiger Woods could only smile when 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson holed his fourth shot at the 72nd hole for a near-miraculous par-save that got him into a playoff with Woods.

On the first playoff hole, what was most interesting is that Johnson did not ask Woods to move his ball-marker from Johnson's intended line. When Johnson's birdie putt bumped over the ball mark, it may have been bumped just off-line enough to cost Johnson a birdie. So, after calmly holing out for par, Johnson pulled out his yardage book to see how he needed to hit his tee-shot at the next playoff hole — fully expecting Woods to sink his five-foot par-saver.

Johnson was by no means the only spectator who was stunned when Woods lipped out at a 10:00 angle. But he certainly was polite in his comments afterward:
"You want to end the tournament with someone making a putt. You don't want to see it like that, especially when he has hit a really good sand shot.

"He played great. He didn't make as many putts as I did. That's all it really was. Today."
Perhaps what is most interesting is that all this time, having won a major championship, playing in three Ryder Cups and three Presidents Cups, Johnson's (unofficial) win at Sherwood enabled him to crack the top ten in the Official World Golf Rankings for the first time ever.

Johnson's victory is also the end of an era for Tiger's World Challenge; Sunday represents the last time at Sherwood for the World Challenge. The galleries reacted appropriately; attendance for Sunday's round was reportedly 24,922 — a record crowd for any round at Sherwood over the last 14 years. Beginning next December, it will be played Isleworth Country Club outside Orlando, where Tiger previously lived with his now-ex-wife and two children.

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[ comments ]
GolfSmith7 says:
Now I won't feel so bad when I miss a 5 footer... Zach played great and Tiger showed that he isn't immune to pressure.
mustang6560 says:
It may be me, but Tiger seemed in different about winning, which is weird/not Tiger-esque. In a matter of minutes, Zach went from hitting the worst shot/chocking of his career to arguably the best, most clutch shot. Isn't golf great?
dottomm says:
I just want to add that I was floored when Zach holed out to save par. It was amazing! However I think Tiger's s up and down for par under that kind of pressure is what makes him so legendary. I was shocked he missed it the second time. That was some great golf.
GBogey says:
I see these as more of an exhibition, i.e. skins game, than a tournament. All the same, Tiger's 2nd round was one to see - 18 GIR's, only one barely missed fairway, 10 birds and none of the putts very long.
DougE says:
Zach is a class act. He always has been.

After leading the tournament for virtually three days straight, I am sure it was a hard pill for Tiger to swallow, but I felt he did so with grace. He, too, showed class in losing, with a big smile and what seemed to me, genuine admiration for Zach. It was a fun tournament to watch.
Duke of Hazards says:
Not an official tournament, but some great Sunday memories. I'm gonna miss it when it moves.
legitimatebeef says:
I'm gonna miss Sherwood too. It's a good course on TV, and it plays plenty difficult enough for the top guys. They ought to do a major championship there someday. Tiger did not seem too busted up about leaving Sherwood, which kinda surprised me. Then again it's moving to his old home course, in his current home state so I'm sure that's gonna be nice for him and probably everyone else who plays it. The tourney seems to get better every year. Some good finishes. It seems to fill a need, to plug a hole until the next season starts.
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