Thu | Oct 18, 2018

Comeback complete - Tiger Woods wins PGA Tour Championship

Published:Monday | September 24, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Tiger Woods hits from the third fairway during the final round of the Tour Championship golf tournament in Atlanta yesterday.

ATLANTA (AP):

A comeback not even Tiger Woods saw coming a year ago.

A chaotic celebration that golf has not seen, even in the best of times.

Woods delivered the perfect ending to his amazing return from four back surgeries yesterday 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.

They chased after any inch of grass they could find to watch the ending.

This felt just as big as a major, maybe better, considering where Woods had been.

"I didn't want to get run over," Woods said with a laugh.

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."

He paused as his voice started to crack.

More roars.

Several players, from Zach Johnson to Rickie Fowler to Horschel, waited to greet him. It was Johnson who unveiled red shirts at the Ryder Cup two years ago in the team room that said, 'Make Tiger Great Again'.

"They knew what I was struggling with," Woods said. "It was special to see them."

One year ago, Woods was still waiting for his lower back to fuse and was not sure he could ever play again. He told stories of being unable to get off the couch to watch his kids play football, much less to chip and putt. He said after the second and third back surgeries in the latter end of 2015 that he already had achieved plenty in golf and that anything else would be "gravy".