Tiger Victorious - Finally

It had been two years and three weeks - 749 days to be exact - since Tiger Woods won a golf tournament. That is until Sunday, when the erstwhile top-ranked player in the world birdied the final two holes to edge a game Zach Johnson and win the $5 million Chevron World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Woods, who began the last round a stroke behind Johnson after a 73 Saturday that caused him to forfeit a three-shot lead he enjoyed at the halfway mark, closed with a 3-under 69 to go to 10-under 278 on a virtually windless day at Sherwood Country Club. On Sunday he had five birdies and two bogeys.

The victory was his first anywhere since the Australian Masters on November 15, 2009. He had played 26 tournaments without stepping into the winner's circle before this, the 72nd - and 83rd worldwide - title of his remarkable career.

After a birdie on the par-3 17th that tied Johnson - who just missed his birdie attempt, Woods watched as Johnson's 15-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th squeaked by the left edge of the cup. Woods then rolled in his winning putt from six feet and, for the second straight hole, released his trademark fist pump to loud roars from the gallery.

"It feels great," Woods said at greenside. "It was a lot of fun coming down the stretch." As for his big shots on the final two holes, Woods, who won the tournament for a record fifth time and donates his winnings to the Tiger Woods Foundation, added, "I hit two good putts. The putt on 17 was huge. (The win) feels awesome. I think everyone enjoyed it."

Though he came up a bit short, Johnson, who has endured a victory drought of his own - his last title came in May 2010 in the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, was pleased with his performance. "Obviously, I'm disappointed. But there are more positives than negatives.

"He birdied the last two holes," the 2007 Masters champion added matter-of-factly. "You've just got to tip your hat. I'm proud of the way I handled it and I continued to fight."

Though not an official PGA Tour event, the $1.2 million victory counted toward World Golf Ranking points, moving Woods from 52nd to 21st in the 2011 rankings.

Paul Casey ended up in solo third after a 69 that took him to 5-under 283. Over the final 54 holes the Englishman made a remarkable run up the leaderboard after a dismal 79 in the opening round.

Casey also tipped a figurative cap to the winner. "Tiger can have a long career," he said. "We might look back in another 10 years and actually forget about the last couple of years."

Hunter Mahan and Matt Kuchar both posted 71s to share fourth at 284, while Jim Furyk (69), Martin Laird (70), Rickie Fowler (71) and Bubba Watson (72) were tied for sixth at 1-under 287.

Bo Van Pelt (71) and Gary Woodland (75) tied for 10th in the 18-man field at even-par 288, and first-round leader K.J. Choi closed with a 78 to end up at plus-1 in solo 12th.

The rest of the leaderboard showed Webb Simpson (70) and FedEx Cup winner Bill Haas (74) tied for 13th at 290, while Jason Day (72) was in 15th at 291; Steve Stricker (74) in 16th another shot back; PGA champion Keegan Bradley (73) in 17th at 298; and Nick Watney in last place after posting a 77 and finishing at 11-over 299.

For complete scoring, visit http://www.pgatour.com/leaderboards/current/r478/.