Northwestern Mutual World Challenge. Zach Zooms In To Win Title.

Zach Johnson zooms in to win the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge from Tiger Woods.

Zach and Trophy / AFP

Zach carded a final round -4 under par 68 in the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge to tie Tiger Woods at -13 under par at the top of the leaderboard, forcing a play-off. Tiger finished with a -2 under par 70.

Zach rallied from four shots behind with eight holes to play, and then holed out from a drop area for par on the last hole to force a play-off, and beat Tiger, the No. 1 player in golf at the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge.

It was a storybook ending at Sherwood Country Club that had every element a real golf fan could want.Tiger Woods with a commanding lead before a record crowd, clutch shots that kept getting better with every hole and a finish no one saw coming.

Zach Johnson never looked the part of a winner until he was posing with the trophy, after his shot from a free drop area went into the cup.

“I feel very fortunate and somewhat lucky,” he said talking about his shot, and adding it took three bounces, the last one just beyond the hole, and it stopped and spun back a few inches into the cup. A little too dramatic for me. It’s probably No. 1 recovery shot. You know, I don’t know where it will rank. I can think of a number of shots that I had to execute and I came through. I’ll take pride in the fact that I played against the best, and I got one.”

Of  Tigers reaction to his miracle shot Zach said

 “Great playing, we both said that.  I mean, what you’d expect. Tiger asked What’s wrong with the middle of the green?’ You know, which is exactly what you should say. But I mean, he was very gracious, as he usually is.”

Tiger missed a short putt in the play-off, handing the trophy to Zach;

“I was struggling blocking putts, and today was a perfect example of that. 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. You’re making adjustments all day. It’s part of the game, whether it’s swing or putting stroke or chipping. Whatever it is, whatever facet of the game. The game is fluid. You’re always making adjustments and trying to find something that clicks, and if it does click, you run with it, and you try and monitor it, like I did on Friday. I think I did a pretty good job of that on Friday, and I had it going that day.”

On a side note Matt Kuchar  and Bubba Watson  tied for third place at -9 under par.

 

Northwestern Mutual World Challenge. Tiger, 62 to 72, That’s Golf.

Tiger shot 62 yesterday at the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, but evened that out with a par round of 72 today.

Quite the Challenge

Tiger Woods / Getty Images

Tiger still leads the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge event, despite his par 72 round today, -11 under par was good enough to hang on, in a wet and very blustery Sherwood Country Club golf course. It was really the putter that was suspect again. Tiger commented on Zach’s unlucky iron shot;

“I’m pleased at having the lead, not real pleased with the way I putted today. I left a few out there today. I thought Zach hit it perfect, he hit a little cut 5 and it was right on the flag. I mean, I thought it was the perfect flight to get there. I had a 6, and I knew that if my ball kicked up at all, it wasn’t going to get there after seeing his ball get smoked at the end. So I went ahead and flipped it over to the left and bailed out.”

Zach Johnson is two shots back in second place with a sore of -9 under par, he also had an even par round, thanks mainly to an errant  5-iron approach that went into the creek, he was one shot out of the lead at the time;

“I didn’t take myself out of it.”

Bubba Watson had a -3 under par 69, to finish the day in third place at -7 under par for the tournament, four shots behind the lead.

“This golf course is very difficult, right now, there’s a pretty good player leading. He’s won here before. He knows this golf course pretty well. But I’m just going to come out there and play. I’ve shot under par my last few rounds. I want to keep doing that. If I can shoot in the 60s, give myself a chance, we’ll see what happens.”

In the old days you would call this tournament done and dusted, Tiger with a two shot going into the final day, but these days it’s not quite so true.

Northwestern Mutual World Challenge. Tiger Takes Control.

Tiger Woods takes control of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks in California.

World of good

Tiger Woods / Getty Images

Tiger shot a second round -10 under par 62 to top the leaderboard in the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, with a tournament score of -11 under par, a two shot lead.

He was not happy with his warm up, but produced the goods when it mattered;

“It was good today, it was the first swing I think I made, even during warm-up, that felt really good. And I tried to keep that feeling the rest of the day, and I did. I hit a lot of good shots after that.”

Tiger and Nelson: 

Tiger was informed of Nelson’s passing before he finished the opening round of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge, and said he found it hard to imagine that the man could emerge from 27 years of imprisonment without any hatred;

“I don’t think any of us probably here could have survived that and come out as humble and as dignified as he did. To lead an entire nation and to basically love the world when he came out, I think that’s a testament to his will and his spirit and who he was. That time frame when he came out of prison, the country could have fallen apart. It could have gone a lot of different ways, and he led it to where it’s at now, and the world is going to miss him.”

Ernie, Nelson and Tiger met with Nelson Mandela ahead of the 2003 Presidents Cup/ PGA Tour

In second place at Thousand Oaks is first round leader Zach Johnson, a second round of -4 under par 68 gives him his tournament total of -9 under par.

Matt Kuchar is in third place at -8 under par, these three are well clear of the field now. Next best is G-Mac at -5 under par, he played along side Tiger and had this to say afterwards;

“It was a clinic, I enjoyed that, it was cool to see that kind of golf. He was under control, he hit it down the middle of every fairway. He didn’t have that kind of violence with his speed through the ball.”

Matt agreed with Graeme’s assessment of Tiger;

“Amazing what Tiger did out there. It’s just some incredible golf. I kind of felt sorry for Graeme McDowell. I saw he posted a 5-under-par round, and it must have felt like it was 2 or 3 over. It’s tough when you’re paired with a guy like that. It makes you feel like you’re not doing much. But the rest of us just go about our business.”

Northwestern Mutual World Challenge. Zach Is In The Zone.

Zach Johnson was in the zone at the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge for the opening round at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks in California.

Zach Johnson / getty

 Zach leads the tournament shooting a -5 under par 67 for his first round, giving him a one shot advantage over the field.  Just recently Zach had his annual “summit” with his team of coaches, where they discuss the in and outs of the last year. Analyzing and crunching the statistics, and then lay out goals for where to improve in 2014, one of the areas to  improve upon was par-5 scoring;

“A highlight that we’re looking into next year is trying to play those holes a little bit better. Today I hit it close. I had good shots in there with the proper spin, nothing more than that. But you’ve got to take advantage of them. You’ve got five of them. The thing is, one errant shot, you’re staring a six right in the face, if not more. There’s a lot of penal areas. I did everything decent, just a real solid day all around. I was aggressive when I needed to be aggressive, and I was conservative when I needed to be conservative. It’s nothing more than a decent start.”

In second place at -4 under par is Matt Kuchar, with Hunter Mahan and Bubba Watson tied in third spot at -2 under par for the tournament.

On his own in fifth position at -1 under par is Tiger Woods, who said he could not get any putts to drop, he felt he was a couple of shots short of where he should have been;

“I made a few mistakes today, I also hit a couple of good shots that ended up in some interesting spots. That can happen out there. I shot about the score, maybe could have gotten one or two more out of it.”

Graeme McDowell finished at even par 72 for the day, tied in sixth place, he has always scored in the sixties in every round he has played at Sherwood Country Club, until today;

“The course hasn’t been this tough in a couple years, the scoring reflects that. The greens are much firmer, the speed of them caught me by surprise a little bit today. My speed was a little clumsy, and it showed today on the greens.”

This is the final year the tournament is being played at Sherwood Country Club. It moves to Isleworth just outside Orlando, Florida., next year, so everyone really wants to get their name on the trophy. That includes last weeks winner in Australia, Rory McIlroy, who would love to get back to back wins for the year. Rory had his girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki following him around, and was hopeful of building momentum from his first win of the year last week in the Australian Open.

TW World Challenge, Magnificent G-Mac Wins

Full circle

Graeme McDowell, G-Mac/Dunn/ Getty Images

Graeme McDowell, G-Mac,  finished  with a 4-under par round of 68, and a tournament total of  -17 under par, to win the Tiger Woods World Challenge presented by Northwestern Mutual by three shots on Sunday. It was Graeme’s  first title in two years, he was determined to win as he held off the challenge of  Keegan Bradley. G-Mac was really happy with this result;

“This really caps off my season, we try not to put winning on a pedestal, but this one feels very sweet because it’s been a grind all year. Certainly I will draw some confidence from this one, the game hasn’t given me a huge amount this year. My dollar average around this country club is fairly high, I’m probably right up there in the top-five in the world in California, no doubt about it. We’ll have to look at playing a little bit more here on the West Coast. I’m over the moon to get the job done, for two years I’ve been saying things like processes and trying to get better and be patient and hopefully the wins will come. So I guess I got fed up with telling everybody that I’m playing well. I guess I’m relieved to get across the line and take some nice confidence into this little off period I’ve got coming up.”

Graeme won for the first time since he beat Tiger Woods in a playoff at Sherwood Country Club to close out a dream season in 2010, that included his first major at the U.S. Open and the winning point for Europe at the Ryder Cup.

Second placed Keegan Bradley was at -14 under par for the tournament after his final round of -3 under par 69. Bo Van Pelt finished alone in third spot at -10 under par, with a last round of -2 under par 70.

Tournament host Tiger Woods finished tied in fourth place at -9 under par, with Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler, Tiger admitted he had struggled a bit this week;

“I struggled with my game a little bit this week, I just managed myself well to get around in these conditions. It’s been a long year, and I’ve played a lot, and just really looking forward to a break. Just having nothing to do with golf for a few weeks, just put the clubs away, enjoy the holidays, be with my kids and just really enjoy that. Then after that I’ll start cranking back up again and start focusing on my shots.”

TW World Challenge, G-Mac still the Master

Hi-res-157284952_crop_exact

Graeme McDowell/ Dunn / Getty Images

Graeme McDowell, G-Mac, is still the master of the Tiger Woods World Challenge after his third round at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California, shooting -4 under par 68 in the Northwestern Mutual presented event. He leads by two shots from Keegan Bradley. Graeme said after his round;

“If I was to get the job done Sunday I may have to stay an extra day and get a real estate agent and have a look around the area because there’s something weird going on here. I think it’s certainly my kind of course, there’s no doubt about it. It’s a course that rewards a premium on accuracy and a premium on good, aggressive iron play. I’ve always kind of rolled the ball here well. It’s definitely a golf course that sets up well for me.”

Keegan Bradley is in second place, just two shots behind Graeme, at -11 under par for the tournament, firing a third round -5 under par 67.  Tournament host Tiger Woods is five back of the leader, and has some work to do if he wants to win his own event;

“I felt like I played decent enough to get to 10 under, to get to double digits, and just didn’t do it, and as of right now I’m five back. I’m going to have to shoot a low one tomorrow and see what happens.”

There are rumors that Tiger put his own money up with Northwestern Mutual  when the tournament, which began in 1999 and benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation, lost its title sponsor last year and a replacement sponsor fell through in September. Tiger would not reveal the numbers publicly but some say the amount required was $4 million. Tiger was coy with his answer when questioned;

“I bridged the gap on it, I’m not going to tell you the exact amount, but it’s a good number. The title sponsor unfortunately fell through, but this is important for us. What’s important is that if it wasn’t for this tournament, we wouldn’t have the success with the foundation. The learning center would not have happened. We wouldn’t have gained the awareness that we have now. There have been so many kids that we have helped, just because of this event. It’s important to me, to the foundation, this is what got us on the map.”

The foundation built the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Orange County. Now there are also two campuses in the Washington, D.C., area, another in south Florida and one in Philadelphia. About 100,000 kids have attended programs at the learning centers. Many of the kids have received scholarships to attend college,  many being the first in their family to go to college. The World Challenge has raised $25 million for the foundation, including nearly $9 million from Tiger, who has donated all his winnings in the tournament to the foundation.

First round leader Nick Watney, who is in seventh place in this field of 18 elite players, called Tiger’s charitable donation and million-dollar infusion to the tournament;

” An incredibly kind thing to do and an amazing gesture by him. I think there will be jokes about him that he can afford it, but it’s a great thing. I hope it receives the credit that it deserves, it’s a credit to him and he’s a great guy. Everybody in this game owes him a debt of gratitude, even though I know he wouldn’t want it.”

If  Tiger does shoot a low round tomorrow and wins again, everyone knows what will happen , the Foundation will receive the $1 million winners purse . I personally hope this does happen, for the Children’s sake. Go Tiger

US PGA, TW World Challenge, G-Mac attack

 

2012-11-30 graeme mcdowell leads

Graeme McDowell, G-Mac, attacked the Tiger Woods World Challenge with a super second round of  -6 under par 66 at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks in California, at the Tiger Woods World Challenge which is presented by Northwestern Mutual. Graeme  has managed to do a lot of things right this year without actually winning,  but he has created one last chance to fix that right  here after taking a three-shot lead going into the weekend. Just before he was escorted away for a drugs test, Graeme had time to say;

“A good day’s work. I would love to compete and play well this weekend, really to kind of put a little icing on what’s been a mediocre year, despite the fact that I feel like I’ve played some decent golf this year. I really don’t have a lot to show for myself, and this would be a nice way to finish. It’s just been a golf course that’s always fit my eye, great backdrops, nice undulations. It’s just a fun course to play. I just always have fun here. And you know, I think I’m always in a fairly relaxed mood here because I’m off the back of five weeks on the road, and I’m very glad to be back on U. S. soil, you know, which is kind of home soil for me nowadays.”

Graeme intends to take a couple of months off after this tournament, and when asked what he would do with his spare time, he replied;

Try and stay out of the bar as much as possible. December will be very much recharging and relaxing and moving into my new house in Orlando and spending some time with friends and family. And January will be detoxing and practicing and getting ready to do it all again.”

Tied for second place at -6 under par for the two rounds, are Bo Van Pelt, Jim Furyk and Keegan Bradley with Tiger another shot back at -5 under par.

Tournament Host Tiger Woods felt he had played some of his best gold;

“I had a decent warm-up session, but the work I did last night was some of the best I’ve hit the golf ball all year. I just had to come out here and trust it, and when I did, I got into a nice little run there. I just need to do that all 36 holes on the weekend.”

First round leader Nick Watney, who had a 67 on Thursday, fell apart late in his second round, leaving him five shots off the top of the leaderboard;

Just a terrible way to finish, but we’re only halfway through, so we’ll see if we can make a charge at those guys in the morning.”

Propping everyone else up at the bottom of the table is Aussie Jason Day, perhaps Jason had his mind on the cricket,  South Africa had dismissed Australia for just 163 runs at the WACA Ground.

 

 

 

 

US PGA Tiger Woods World Challenge, Nick Watney Leads

Nick Watney leads the US PGA Tiger Woods World Challenge, presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Sherwood Country Club, Thousand Oaks  in California. Nick leads the event by two shots, after his opening round of -5 under par, 67.

Watney stays hot

Nick Watney / Dunn / Getty Images

Nick is ahead of Keegan Bradley, Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk, who are all at -3 under par, after their rounds of 69.  Graeme McDowell is just one of thirteen Ryder Cup Players who are contesting in this event, making a very strong field indeed. Tiger Woods is in the group at -2 under par 70, he is in good company with Bo Van Pelt and Webb Simpson both on the same score. There are three players at -1 under par, they are Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan and Aussie Jason Day. Everybody else is over par, the last player on the board is Brandt Snedeker at +3 over par.

Nick shot a round of  80 in the final round in 2010 and then finished last in the 18-player field last year at Tiger Woods’ World Challenge, he said about today;

“I figured since Tiger is nice enough to invite me, I might as well prepare and try to play well. I’m a little better prepared than I have been coming in here. I’ve come in the past two years pretty rusty, hadn’t been doing much work. This tournament’s definitely not as serious or as cut-throat, maybe, but I think when Sunday comes, we’re all very competitive people. If we’re tied going to the last hole, we definitely want to beat the other guy. Winning this event would be an honor. The list of champions is pretty strong. I think everybody comes here wanting to win even though it’s during the holiday season and all that stuff. I’m trying to use it to prepare for next season, and winning never gets old, so that’s the goal.”

Keegan Bradley said he had played solidly all day,

“I did have a bad break on the last hole, but I played so solidly all day.  The drive on No. 18 was literally resting up against a root, and then just to the right of it was a rock. You know, it was a bad break, but also if it didn’t hit that root it probably would have rolled all the way back down that hill toward the ninth fairway.”

Tiger admitted he did not play to the best of his abilities;

“”I didn’t hit it very good, it was nice to scrape out a good score. I could have easily shot myself out of the tournament, but I kept myself in it.”

Tomorrow is another day, and tournament host Tiger Woods will be keen to assert his authority.