Tiger Woods watched his 25-foot putt race down the slope and bend toward the cup, then he skipped backward and punched the desert air in celebration when it disappeared into the cup for a final birdie.
So ended his charge Sunday to win the Dubai Desert Classic over Ernie Els. Woods birdied the last two holes, and five of the last seven, for 7-under 65 to start his season with two victories.
The first week was an eight-shot victory at the Buick Invitational. The next week was his largest comeback in eight years, rallying from a four-shot deficit with an array of shots.
"I'm just happy to get a win out of this," Woods said. "It's the ideal start, isn't it? You play to win. So far, I've done that this year."
Woods finished 14-under 274 for a one-shot victory over Martin Kaymer. Woods had already posted his score when Kaymer, who won two weeks ago in Abu Dhabi, closed birdie-birdie-eagle for 66.
Els started the final round with a one-shot lead over Henrik Stenson and was four shots clear of Woods. Els missed par putts inside 5 feet on the 11th and 12th holes to lose the lead, but had a chance to force a playoff with birdie on the par-5 18th. Instead, his 5-wood came up well short and ended up in the water.
He made bogey for 71 and tied for third with Louis Oosthuizen.
"The second shot on 18, it was right where I had it, but I could see the gust got it in the air and it didn't have much of a chance in the end there," Els said.
Two years ago at Dubai, Woods birdied the last two holes to force a playoff against Els, then beat him when Els hit his second shot into the water on No. 18.
Woods has more than double the points in the world rankings over second-ranked Phil Mickelson, and when asked about the gap over Mickelson, Woods playfully said, "I thought Ian Poulter was No. 2?"
Poulter was quoted before the tournament that he was the only one who could challenge Woods. Poulter tied for 39th.
It was the largest comeback for Woods since he made up a five-shot deficit at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in 2000, a final round that included holing out from the 15th fairway.
This was almost as impressive. Woods lost momentum with bogeys on the sixth and ninth holes, but he poured it on along the back nine with six birdies to win Dubai for the second time.
"All of sudden I was in the mix, out of the mix," Woods said. "I like (winning) by seven or eight a lot. It's a lot less stressful."
Woods has until Friday to decide whether to play the Northern Trust Open at Riviera, though he is expected to return Feb. 20 at the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona.
PGA: J.B. Holmes won the FBR Open for the second time in three years, beating Phil Mickelson on the first playoff hole in Scottsdale, Ariz. Holmes, a 25-year-old Kentuckian, birdied the 18th with a 13-foot putt to force the playoff, then made an 8-footer after a 359-yard drive to win it. "I can play under pressure, I guess," Holmes said. Mickelson, who birdied three of the final six holes of regulation, just missed a 28-foot birdie putt before Holmes' winner. Both finished 14-under 270, Holmes with 71 and Mickelson with 67. "That's pretty impressive golf," Mickelson said of Holmes' play.
AUSTRALIAN OPEN: Karrie Webb won the event for a fourth time with a 10-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff against Shin Ji-yai. Webb and Shin had 67s to finish 8-under 284 in Melbourne. Lindsay Wright, who went into the round with a one-shot lead, shot 75 and was in a five-way tie for fifth.
Tiger on a roll
Since tying for 12th at the 2007 British Open, Tiger Woods can claim eight victories and a second in the Deutsche Bank Championship:
Aug. 5 WGC Bridgestone Inv.
68-70-69-65 - 272 -8
Aug. 12 PGA Championship
71-63-69-69 - 272 -8
Sept. 3 Deutsche Bank Champ.
72-64-67-67 - 270 -14
Sept. 9 BMW Championship
67-67-65-63 - 262 -22
Sept. 16 Tour Championship
64-63-64-66 - 257 -23
Sept. 30 Pres. Cup, USA
191/2 - International 141/2
Dec. 16 Target World Challenge
69-62-67-68 - 266 -22
Jan. 27 Buick Invitational
67-65-66-71 - 269 -19
Feb. 3 Dubai Desert Classic
65-71-73-65 - 274 -14
Any time, anywhere
Since the start of 2006, Tiger Woods owns an impressive record no matter where he's playing. The world's No. 1 player has been especially solid when taking to the course for stroke play events outside the U.S.:
'08 Dubai Desert Classic won
'07 British Open T-12th
'07 Dubai Desert Classic T-3rd
'06 Dunlop Phoenix 2nd
'06 HSBC Championships 2nd
'06 WGC-American Express won
'06 British Open won
'06 Dubai Desert Classic won