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Woods finds good and bad in Sherwood farewell

By Mark Lamport-Stokes

THOUSAND OAKS, California (Reuters) - Tournament host Tiger Woods expressed bitter-sweet feelings after he lost out in a playoff for the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge on Sunday as the elite event ended a run of 14 years in California.

Next December, the World Challenge will shift to Isleworth Country Club outside Orlando in Florida, but Woods will long treasure memories of his five previous victories here and the $25 million raised by the tournament for his foundation.

"It is very sad to obviously leave Sherwood (Country Club) because there are so many great memories for me personally," world number one Woods told reporters after being beaten at the first extra hole by fellow American Zach Johnson.

"This was the last time my dad (Earl) ever got a chance to watch me play live, and this event has always had special meaning for my father and me.

"Without this event, we wouldn't be able to build the learning center which we did down in Orange County, and over 100,000 kids have now gone through our facilities."

Woods, World Challenge champion in 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2011, had been bidding for his sixth tournament victory of 2013 but was still able to reflect on a highly successful campaign after being denied by Johnson.

"Pretty damn good year," said Woods, who won a season-high five times on the PGA Tour before being voted Player of the Year for a record 11th time.

"Five wins, and you know, on some pretty good venues, so I'm very pleased with the year."

Though Woods failed to add to his career haul of 14 majors, he won five of his first 11 PGA Tour events, clinching the Farmers Insurance Open, the WGC-Cadillac Championship, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Players Championship and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

MAJOR LIKING

Woods especially likes the look of the venues for next year's majors.

He has always enjoyed playing at Augusta (Masters), has placed second and third in the last two U.S. Opens staged at Pinehurst and has previously triumphed at both Hoylake (2006 British Open) and Valhalla (2000 PGA Championship).

"I've won at every one, except for Pinehurst, and I'm trending in the right way," Woods said. "I've finished third, second. You get the picture, right?

"So I'm looking forward to the major championship venues next year. They have set up well for me over the years and I look forward to it."

As for his form at Sherwood Country Club this week, Woods was particularly pleased with the success of a new driver he put in his bag while he bemoaned his putting on three of the four days.

"I drove the ball great this week," he said. "I found a nice driver and I'm very pleased at the changes that I found in that. I think changing the shaft really made a big difference there.

"Most of the week though, except for Friday, I was struggling with my putting, blocking putts. Today was a perfect example of that. I blocked a lot of putts and just had a tough time finding my release point.

"The last hole, you know, being left-to-right and I just didn't want to block that one, and I didn't. I over released it."

Woods lipped out with a five-footer to bogey the first extra hole after Johnson had safely two-putted there for par.

"Putting comes and goes," said Woods. "It is what it is. You have your good days and bad days. Friday I made everything. And today was just one of those days where I just didn't make a lot."

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Gene Cherry)

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