THOUSAND OAKS, December 6- US Open champion Graeme McDowell capped his dream season by denying Tiger Woods' bid to claim a lone tournament title in 2010 with a playoff triumph at the World Challenge.Woods, who had let slip a four-shot lead, appeared poised to seize the victory at the 72nd hole when he put his approach shot three feet from the pin.
But McDowell drained his own 20-footer for birdie to send the unofficial event hosted by Woods to a playoff.
Returing to the par-four 18th for the playoff, McDowell then made another 20-footer for birdie while Woods just missed his own 15-footer.
Woods, who has struggled with swing changes on the course and coped with scandal that threw his personal life into turmoil, hasn’t won since the 2009 Australian Masters.
McDowell carded a three-under 69 for 272 while Woods shot a two-over 73.
England’s Paul Casey was third after a 69 for 276.
The defeat marked the first time in his professional career that Woods lost a tournament when he led by three or more shots after 54 holes.
"I was aware he was a pretty damn good closer," McDowell said. "It’s a pretty special feeling to go out there four back and do the job."
McDowell improved on his runner-up finish in this event last year, when he was a last-minute replacement for Woods – who opted out of his own event as he was engulfed in a sex scandal that eventually ended his marriage.
Woods didn’t open his 2010 season until the Masters in April, and for the first year since he turned pro failed to notch a US PGA Tour victory.
The drought saw him toppled from the number one world ranking in November after five years at the top.
Despite the defeat, Woods said he was encouraged by his week and proud of his battling final round.
Woods got off to a stuttering start, three-putting two of the first three holes.
McDowell seized a two-shot lead at the par-five 13th, as he birdied and Woods took double-bogey.
The fact that he could regroup and challenge for the victory at the end was a source of pride for Woods, who prior to this week had topped a leaderboard just once this year, when he shared the lead after the first round of The Barclays.
"Today, even though I lost and made countless mistakes in the middle part of the round, it said a lot for me to come back and put my swing back together again," Woods said.
"I haven’t done that yet, and I haven’t done it down the stretch when I needed it the most.
"That’s exciting for me to know that it was there when I needed it."