Tiger Woods Wins Tour Championship For 80th PGA Tour Title
- Category: Inside Golf
- Published: 2018-09-24
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ATLANTA, Georgia — A comeback not even Tiger Woods saw coming a year ago.
A chaotic celebration that golf hasn’t seen even in the best of times.
Woods delivered the perfect ending to his amazing return from four back surgeries on Sunday with a performance that felt like the old days. He left the competition feeling hopeless as he built a five-shot lead early and hung on to win the Tour Championship.
Woods raised both arms over his head after he tapped in for par and a 1-over 71 for a two-shot victory over Billy Horschel, the 80th victory of his PGA Tour career and his first in more than five years.
“It was a grind out there,” Woods said. “I loved every bit of it.”
It felt like a coronation coming down the 18th green after he hit his second shot to the par 5 safely in a bunker in front of the green. The crowd came through the ropes and walked behind him, just like that walk from the left side of the 18th fairway when he won the Masters in 1997, and when the enormous gallery of Chicago followed after him when he won the Western Open that summer.
Only when he was on the green, the last one to putt after Rory McIlroy tapped in for birdie, did it start to sink in. “All of a sudden it hit me that I was going to win the tournament. I started tearing up a little bit,” Woods said. “I can’t believe I pulled this off.”
One year ago, Woods was still waiting for his lower back to fuse and wasn’t sure he could ever play again. He told stories of being unable to get off the couch to watch his kids play soccer, much less to chip and putt. He said after the second and third back surgeries in the latter end of 2015 that he already has achieved plenty in golf and anything else would be “gravy.”
Woods brought it all to life over four days at East Lake, and the players who have taken turns at No. 1 during his absence caught the full brunt of it. McIlroy faded early. Justin Rose faded late.
All that was left was the 42-year-old Woods in that Sunday red shirt blazing brighter than ever and a smile he couldn’t shake walking up to collect another trophy. He finished at 11-under 269 and won $1.62 million, along with a $3 million bonus for finishing second in the FedEx Cup.
The only disappointment — a minor one under the circumstances — was realizing as he came down the 18th that Rose had made birdie to finish in a three-way tie for fourth, which gave him the FedEx Cup and the $10 million bonus. Without that birdie, Woods would have won his third FedEx Cup title after starting at No. 20 going into the Tour Championship. Rose’s four bogeys over the last 10 holes cost him the No. 1 ranking back to Dustin Johnson, who shot 67 and finished third.