THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) – One last birdie putt he didn’t need. One final victory that didn’t count.

Tiger Woods wrapped up a remarkable season Sunday at the Target World Challenge, seizing the lead from U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy in just three holes and coasting to a 6-under 66 for a four-shot victory in the last tournament of the year.

He started the year with a playoff victory in the Buick Invitational and ended it by beating an elite, 16-man field to win his tournament for the third time in its eight-year history. Between those bookend trophies was a mixture of triumph and tragedy.

Earl Woods, his father and the braintrust behind this tournament, died May 3 of cancer, and Woods took nine weeks off to grieve. After missing the cut at the U.S. Open in his return to golf, Woods never finished worse than second place in stroke play the rest of the year, winning two majors and six consecutive PGA Tour events.

“It’s been a year of two halves,” said Woods, who finished at 16-under 272 with a birdie on the last hole. “Obviously, on the golf course it’s been something else to have things coming together, especially winning two majors.”

The Target World Challenge was his 11th trophy of the year. While it doesn’t count in the record books, Woods donates the $1.35 million prize to his Tiger Woods Learning Center that opened in February.

Ogilvy bogeyed the par-5 second hole and never recovered, falling two shots behind and trailing by four at the turn. He closed with a 71 to finish at 276. Chris DiMarco also shot 71 and finished third.

Woods was in the second-to-last group, one shot behind Ogilvy, and turned it around quickly. He holed a 10-foot birdie putt on the second hole, then chipped in for birdie from about 20 feet on the par-3 third to catch Ogilvy.

That turned into a lead a few minutes later when the 29-year-old Aussie took bogey that derailed him.

Ogilvy had a large chunk of mud on his ball and felt he had to go for the green, but the ball squirted well to right and left him a tough third shot to the green. Once he got there, he three-putted to drop to 10 under.

“Bogey on a par 5, it doesn’t put you in a great frame of mind,” Ogilvy said. “It was a smelly start. I would have had to shoot a special score, so maybe I was trying too hard.”

Woods had said Saturday evening that pars would not be good enough, and he played that way. After a bogey from the bunker on No. 4, he hit fairway metal at the flag on the par-5 fifth to about 20 feet behind the hole for a two-putt birdie, then poured it on with a 20-foot birdie on the seventh and a 12-foot birdie on the ninth.

He went out in 32, going from a one-shot deficit to a three-shot lead. And when he played his pitching wedge off the slope on the 10th to 5 feet for his third birdie in four holes, he was at 15 under, up by four and cruising.

“Once you get the lead out here, the guys behind me … if they get aggressive, they can make mistakes,” Woods said. “The whole idea is to force them to get me.”

No one came particularly close.

DiMarco made an unlikely birdie on the 10th to reach 12 under, but failed to birdie the par-5 11th and took bogey on the next hole. Ogilvy still had hope, and for good reason.

Ahead of him, Woods’ tee shot on the par-3 15th sailed well over the green, leading to bogey. Ogilvy had a birdie putt on the 14th that would have pulled him to within one shot, but he got too aggressive and three-putted for bogey. Woods followed with a birdie, the lead was back to four shots and it was just a matter of finishing after that.

Next up for Woods is a skiing holiday with his family. The next question is when he returns.

Woods, who skipped the final five PGA Tour events – including the Tour Championship – has not said whether he will start his 2007 season at the winners-only Mercedes-Benz Championship in Hawaii on Jan. 4, or wait until the Buick Invitational three weeks later.

Whenever he returns, expectations will be as high as ever.

The last PGA Tour event Woods played without winning was the Western Open in early July, and he has a six-tournament winning streak on the U.S. tour. He was runner-up twice in Asia the last two months, and lost in the first round of the HSBC World Match Play Championship in England a week before the Ryder Cup.

AP-ES-12-17-06 1810EST

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