Doug Ferguson recounts a wild finish at the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge that saw Zach Johnson overcome a four shot deficit with eight holes to go, highlighted by a dramatic hole out.
The win moves Johnson to No. 9 in the world. After the round Johnson described the shot that set up the hole out: his drop-kick almost-shank into Sherwood's 18th hole pond.
Q. What did you think walking back to the drop area had to happen for you to be sitting here today?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I was upset. You know, I mean I had I don't want to say an awkward yardage, but I had‑‑ I was in between clubs. And certainly saw his shot. You know, very hard shot. End up in the bunker down there. I assumed it was in the bunker and then when I walked up there it was. It looked to me like it was going to be a very, very difficult 4 for him. So once my ball was in the hazard, my whole process was just, I mean I'm trying to get somewhat around the hole and make a 5. You know, it wasn't exactly a full‑wedge shot, but it was one that I could be aggressive with. And 58 yards, trying to hit it about 52, 53, and we saw what it did.
Shouldn't have been in that position, but I'll learn from it. I didn't complete my back swing on my second shot, and as a result, miss‑hit it and everything. It was just bad. Just bad. (Laughs). I mean that was the worst shot I hit all day. Wasn't even close to being‑‑ there was no question. It was probably the worst I hit all week.
Q. Keep going.
ZACH JOHNSON: Worst shot I've hit in a long time.
Bob Harig says the takeaway for Tiger was improved driving heading into 2014.
Perhaps more important is that he seems to have found a driver and a shaft he likes. Although he was not as strong off the tee Sunday, Woods hit 75 percent of his fairways for the week and 81 percent of the greens. That will always be a strong combination.
"I'm very pleased to find something off the tee there," he said. "The shaft has definitely made a big difference. Putting comes and goes. It is what it is. You have your good days and your bad days. Friday I made everything and a couple of these days I made a lot of midrange putts for pars. Today was one of those days where I just didn't make a lot."
More alarming though was his putting. It didn't take more than a casual observer to notice that Woods looked horribly uncomfortable over the ball Sunday. Woods explained it was a battle all week, even when with a 62 in it. Jason Sobel reports what Woods said:
“I was struggling blocking putts, and today was a perfect example of that,” he explained. “I blocked a lot of putts today and just had a tough time finding my release point, and I just could not find my release point, no matter what I tried to do to adjust and just wasn't there.
“So the last hole, you know, being left‑to‑right and just didn't want to block that one, and I didn't. I over‑released it.”
Weekends are still an issue for Woods as well, something Brandel Chamblee pointed out after Saturday's 72, and something John Strege notes was a positive sign for those worried that Chamblee would change his style.
Chamblee, meanwhile, is still employed and still opining on Woods. When Tiger followed a round of 62 on Friday with a 72 on Saturday, Chamblee said, "Thursday and Friday he is one of the best, but on the weekend you scratch your head. Yesterday he had the read and the speed on the greens. He was clinical when the rest of the field was doubtful. Today [Saturday] was a different Tiger Woods. The golf course was certainly playing harder today, but he is not the same guy on Saturday and Sunday that he is on Thursday and Friday."
For its part, Golf Channel included the quote in an email, a welcome development that suggests it hasn't muffled him.
Steve DiMeglio noted Tiger's comments following the round about the final Sherwood stop for the World Challenge.
Another change in 2014 will be the site of the World Challenge. After 14 years, the tournament is heading east to Florida. The event has raised $25 million for Woods' foundation and was instrumental in building a learning center in Anaheim. Woods has donated his winnings from the tournament, more than $9 million, to the foundation.
"It is pretty sad to leave Sherwood, because there are so many great memories for me," Woods said. "This was the last (place) my dad ever got a chance to watch me play live, and this event had always had special meaning for me and my father."
Woods's mother, Tida, was on hand to watch the finale.
The YouTube highlights from PGA Tour Entertainment.