|Tiger Woods was unable to finish off Graeme McDowell, completing a winless 2010. (Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)|
US Open champion Graeme McDowell capped off his greatest year with two clutch putts that gave him the greatest comeback ever against Tiger Woods.
McDowell holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole to force a playoff yesterday in the
“It’s the stuff of dreams — 2010 has been the stuff of dreams,’’ McDowell said.
Woods, despite losing a four-shot lead, was poised to end a turbulent year with a victory in his final event. Tied for the lead playing the 18th hole at Sherwood Country Club, he stuffed an 8-iron inside 3 feet for a sure birdie. It was vintage Woods, the kind of magic he has he delivered so often in his career.
But it wasn’t the same old outcome, as McDowell answered with an all-or-nothing birdie putt of his own.
In the playoff on the same hole, McDowell coaxed in another birdie putt from about 25 feet. Woods had about 15 feet to extend the playoff, but it missed just right of the cup.
“Probably two of the great putts I’ve made,’’ McDowell said.
It was the first time Woods has ever lost a tournament when leading by at least three shots going into the final round. Still, he remained upbeat afterward.
“It was a great week, even though I didn’t win,’’ Woods said. “I’m proud of the way I played today, even though I lost.’’
McDowell closed with a 69, while Woods shot a 73 to match him at 16-under 272.
PGA Qualifying — With five rounds down and one to go in Orlando, Fla., Billy Mayfair (67) and Ben Martin (71) were tied for the lead at 16 under, one shot ahead of Bio Kim (68).
The top 25 finishers will earn PGA Tour cards for 2011, and the next 50 will get Nationwide cards. The difference from the top to the cut was seven shots.
Brookline’s James Driscoll shot a 4-over 75 and was tied for ninth with six others.
LPGA — Maria Hjorth won the Tour Championship in Orlando, using a final-round 72 to hold off a field that struggled to even make par.
Hjorth had three birdies and three bogeys on a picture-perfect day at Grand Cypress Golf Club, where only six of 120 players finished below par. Third-round leader Amy Yang shot 74 to finish one shot back.
Hjorth finished at 5-under 283, the highest winning score relative to par all year, except for Paula Creamer’s 3-under victory in the US Open at Oakmont.
Yani Tseng clinched LPGA player of the year, despite finishing 5 over, becoming the first player from Taiwan to win it.
Cristie Kerr also was within striking distance to be the first American since 1994 to claim LPGA player of the year. But her final-round 73 put her at 3 under in a tie for third place.
Nedbank Challenge — Lee Westwood maintained his year-end No. 1 ranking with an eight-shot victory in Sun City, South Africa. Westwood sailed to a 4-under 68 in the final round to finish at 17-under 271.
Australian Open — Geoff Ogilvy earned his second professional victory in his home country, closing with a 3-under 69 for a four-stroke victory in Sydney.