Tiger Woods closed out a successful season Sunday by tying for fourth in the World Challenge Presented by Northwestern Mutual. He shot a final-round, 1-under-par 71 at rain-soaked Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif. to finish at 9-under 279, eight strokes behind winner Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland.
Woods, who doubles as tournament host, never really found his rhythm, but was pleased with the way he competed.
"Overall, I struggled with my game this week," he said. "I didn't quite have it. I just managed myself quite well in the conditions."
A five-time winner of the event, Tiger once again donated his tournament earnings to the Tiger Woods Foundation. To date, he has contributed nearly $10 million to help provide college scholarships for underserved youth.
Despite rainy conditions most of the week, good crowds came out to support his cause and were treated to exceptional play from the 18 competitors. Rising star Rickie Fowler jump-started the final round by sinking his second shot on the par-4 first hole for an eagle.
"I couldn't be more proud of how everything turned out this week as far as the tournament and the foundation," said Woods.
He also had nothing but praise for the hearty fans.
"I think it's two-fold," said Woods. "They came out because we gave them such a good field here -- some of the best players in the world. Second, I got a lot of good feedback this week about what we're trying to do with the foundation, trying to help kids. They support that. We're just trying to help the next generation of kids, and that means a lot to us."
On the course, Woods worked hard to save pars most of the front nine. Playing in light rain with Bo Van Pelt, he made eight pars and one bogey, the latter at the par-4 seventh after an errant drive into the right rough. The highlight was making his first par of the week at the difficult par-3 eighth hole.
On the back nine, Tiger birdied the par-5 13th hole and eagled the par-5 16th. Although he hit his approach shot into a hazard at the par-4 18th hole, Woods gave the fans surrounding the green a thrill by nearly sinking his fourth shot from the fairway.
"I've come a long way," said Woods, who won three PGA Tour events this year and became the circuit's all-time leading money winner. "Last year was a disappointing year. I was hurt for most of the year and didn't really do much."
Tiger also ranked second in scoring and money earnings, tied for third with nine Top 10 finishes, and was fourth in scrambling.
The catalyst for his comeback came at the World Challenge last year, when he birdied the last two holes to beat Zach Johnson for his first victory in more than two years.
"That was the spring-board," Tiger said. "I'm really looking forward to next year."
Woods doesn't expect to swing a club until after Christmas unless 3-year-old son Charlie inspires him to hit golf balls. Tiger is expected to begin his 2013 season in six weeks at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.