McDowell's nerve highlights Tiger's continued vulnerability
Graeme McDowell's fourth victory of the season summed up the golfing year to a tee.
It reminded us of a glorious 12 months for the man from Northern Ireland, not to mention European golf, and denied Tiger Woods victory in what has been a miserable 2010 for the former world number one.
There is no more tenacious a competitor than McDowell at the moment.
Despite creaking over the closing holes after turning a four-shot deficit into a two-shot lead at the Chevron Challenge, he made the putts that counted, both at the end of regulation play and in the sudden death play-off.
His play on the greens boasted the same sure touch evident in October, when he secured the Ryder Cup for Europe, and in June, when he became the continent's first winner of the US Open in 40 years.
This tenacity has taken the 31-year-old to a career high number seven in the world rankings. His victory caps what, by his own admission, has been a "dream year".
Forgive me for not expanding further on the McDowell story at this point because I am sure he will be commanding more attention on these pages later in the week.
Instead, let us consider the man McDowell beat in this World Challenge event. The tournament, with a field of 18, provided Woods with the only occasion he has genuinely challenged for a title since the implosion of his private life a year ago.
There was a time when all bets would be off once the American hit the front - and certainly taking a four-shot lead into the final round usually signalled the end of any meaningful contest.
Not any more - and it is as much to do with the loss of the 34-year-old's deadly accuracy on the greens as yet another - the fourth - rebuilding of his swing.
Yes, that job remains a work in progress, as shown by the way Woods found trouble at crucial stages on the back nine as he sought to close out his first victory for more than a year. But it was fallibility on the greens early in his round that generated much of the pressure he ultimately failed to withstand.
His putting is not what it once was and the deterioration in the reliability of his stroke stretches back further than his errant driving outside his house just over a year ago.
Much has been made of the loss of his aura of invincibility following the revelations over his private life but his rivals are more likely to seize on the deterioration of his form with the short stick.
Woods is keen to emphasise his desire to win the five majors he needs to overhaul Jack Nicklaus's all-time mark of 18 and set a new record for the most number of victories in the tournaments that matter most.
Woods turns 35 at the end of the year and still has time on his side. But he is no longer Mr Invincible - and the opposition know it.
This is not an idle conclusion from the evidence of a tournament with a field of a mere 18 men - more a reasoning from what we have seen since Woods returned to action at the Masters in April.
It has been a year of exceptional circumstance for him - one in which golf has not always been his highest priority - and this goes a long way towards explaining his deterioration.
But it has also been a year in which his rivals have caught up and, in the case of Lee Westwood, overtaken him. Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Ian Poulter and McDowell are all better putters under pressure at the moment.
These players - and others - know Woods can be beaten down the stretch, just as McDowell proved with three single putts in a row to pick up the $1.2m (£766,000) spoils at Sherwood Country Club on Sunday.