THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- For the first time since November 2009, Tiger Woods is back in the winner's circle at a tournament he holds near and dear to his heart, and at a venue he knows all too well.
The Southern California native rediscovered the magic in his Sunday red shirt at Sherwood Country Club, making birdie on the last two holes to overcome a one-shot deficit and draining a seven-foot putt on the last hole of regulation to win his fifth Chevron World Challenge by a stroke over his Sunday playing partner, Zach Johnson.
Woods, who closed the tournament with a 3-under-par 69 and an overall score of 10-under 278, received a $1.2 million winner's check, which he then donated back to the Tiger Woods Foundation, from the $5 million purse.
Additionally, Woods earned Official World Golf Ranking points that catapulted him from No. 52 to No. 21 in the world. Johnson (No. 47 in the world entering the week) and Woods were two of the three lowest-ranked players in the Chevron World Challenge field.
Playing from the fairway before a full gallery of spectators at the par-4, 444-yard 18th hole, Johnson's second shot from 161 yards landed pin-high to 12 feet from the hole. Woods followed with his second shot, from 158 yards, that just flew over the top of the flag to seven feet. Johnson putted first and rolled his birdie attempt inches left of the cup.
Woods didn't miss his chance to win for the first time since the 2009 Australian Masters, exulting with multiple fist pumps and, seemingly, a giant exhale of relief. Helplessly watching Woods sink his winning putt, Johnson reacted with a grin and a shrug of the shoulders.
Johnson, who shot a 1-under 71 Sunday and finished at 9-under 279, lost his one-shot lead entering the day with three bogeys on the front nine. Woods compiled consecutive birdies at Nos. 10 and 11 to open up a two-shot lead, only for the playing partners to become all square again when Woods bogeyed the par-3 12th hole and Johnson birdied the par-5 13th hole.
Johnson took the lead back at 9-under with a birdie on the par-5 16th hole, but Woods pulled even with a birdie on the par-3 17th hole to set up the ultimate 72nd-hole-of-regulation drama.
Englishman Paul Casey closed with a final-round 3-under 69 and quietly crept up all weekend to grab third place at 5-under 283. Since shooting the highest score of the first round (7-over 79), Casey played the last 54 holes in 12-under-par.
The tournament title race became a two-horse race after the nearest pursuers - K.J. Choi (third place after the third round) and Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan and Gary Woodland (all tied for fourth after the third round) - could not break par and make up any ground on the front nine Sunday.
Kuchar's hopes of staying within striking distance of the lead vanished when he double-bogeyed the par-4 ninth hole. Kuchar and Mahan each wound up shooting 1-under 71 to finish tied for fourth at 4-under 284. Choi and Woodland shot 3-over 39s on Sunday's front nine to play themselves out of contention.