Wed, 17 Oct 2018
64
Atlanta

Atlanta - Tiger Woods scored his first victory in more than five years on Sunday, completing a two-shot win at the Tour Championship to crown a fairy tale comeback after a near two-year absence.

The 42-year-old, 14-time major winner carded a one-over-par 71 at Atlanta's East Lake Golf Course to claim the 80th PGA Tour title of his glittering career.

Woods, who finished with an 11-under-par aggregate 269, raised his arms in delight after the victory, with several thousand fans ringing the green roaring their appreciation.

Woods admitted he had nearly been overcome with emotion as he walked up the 18th fairway.

"I was having a hard time not crying coming up the last hole," Woods said, whose most recent win before Sunday had come 1,876 days ago at the 2013 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

"I kept saying 'Hey, I could still play this out of bounds.' But once I got the ball on the green I gave (caddie) Joey (LaCava) a high five because I knew it was done."

It was an emotional finale to a year which saw Woods return to the highest level after he had once feared he may never play golf again.

"It was just a grind out there," Woods said of his final round. "I loved every bit of it. The fight, the grind, the tough conditions.

"To win it's certainly up there with obviously all the major championships I've won, Players, World Golf Championships but then this is under different circumstances.

"I just didn't know whether this would ever happen again. If I could somehow piece together a golf swing this year, I felt like I could do it ... somehow I've been able to do that, and here we are."

Woods later revealed he had also fought back tears on the final green as he prepared for the par putt to complete the win.

"I realised all of sudden I was going to win the tournament," he said.

"My eyes started tearing up a little bit. I just can't believe I pulled this off after I've gone through.

"It's been tough. I've had a not-so-easy last couple of years. I've worked my way back. I couldn't have done it without the help of all the people around me.

"Some of the other players knew what I was struggling with. It was really special to see them at the green on 18. It's just hard to believe I won the Tour Championship."

The victory erased any last lingering doubts about Woods' ability to compete at the highest level, something he had served notice of with top 10 finishes at the British Open and PGA Championships.

Woods, who returned in January after missing almost the entire previous two years with a debilitating back injury, held a three-shot advantage heading into the final round.

A birdie on his opening hole extended Woods' lead to four shots to give the former world number one a dream start.

With the remainder of the 30-man field struggling to make any inroads, Woods then played solid if unspectacular golf to keep a stranglehold on the lead.

A bogey on the 10th was a mere blip, with Woods re-establishing a five-shot cushion at 13 under after rolling in a 13-foot birdie putt on the par-four 13th.

Billy Horschel closed the gap to four shots after a four-under-par final round 66, but Woods looked to be in control.

Woods, however, gave his army of fans roaring him on a scare though when back-to-back bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes cut his lead to two with two to play.

But he steadied the ship with a dogged par on the 17th and then closed out the win with a par on 18.

"Billy put a bit of pressure on me at the end. The up and down at 17 was huge," added Woods, who was flying to Paris later Sunday with the US team for week's Ryder Cup.

"We're flying tonight with the guys, it's going to be fun," said Woods. "I think we're all going to sleep well."

Meanwhile England's Olympic champion Justin Rose ensured he walks off with the FedEx Cup playoff title after finishing on six under for a share of fourth.

Woods was made to sweat however after a shaky three-over-par 73 on his final round.

"It felt like a slow death out there for me today," Rose said before saluting Woods, who stood nearby.

"I'd like to congratulate Tiger right now. I think the world of golf is really proud of you and is super excited about your game and the way the game of golf is going."

Final scores from the season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake on Sunday (USA unless stated):

269 - Tiger Woods 65-68-65-71

271 - Billy Horschel 71-65-69-66

273 - Dustin Johnson 69-70-67-67

274 - Hideki Matsuyama (JPN) 72-66-71-65, Webb Simpson 69-70-68-67, Justin Rose (ENG) 66-67-68-73

275 - Rickie Fowler 65-72-73-65, Justin Thomas 67-69-70-69, Xander Schauffele 68-70-68-69, 201 - Rory McIlroy (NIR) 67-68-66-74

276 - Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 69-69-70-68, Gary Woodland 66-72-68-68, Paul Casey (ENG) 68-71-66-71, Jon Rahm (ESP) 68-68-68-72

277 - Aaron Wise 70-69-67-71, Tony Finau 67-71-67-72, Kyle Stanley 69-68-67-73

278 - Jason Day (AUS) 68-73-69-68

279 - Bryson DeChambeau 71-75-66-67

280 - Cameron Smith (AUS) 70-73-69-68

281 - Patrick Cantlay 71-65-76-69, Francesco Molinari (ITA) 70-75-69-67, Marc Leishman (AUS) 73-69-68-71, Patton Kizzire 71-71-68-71

283 - Kevin Na 72-68-72-71

284 - Brooks Koepka 69-78-67- 70, Keegan Bradley 73-73-69-69

289 - Patrick Reed 72-74-72-71

290 - Bubba Watson 70-72-73- 75

293 - Phil Mickelson 73-72-76-72

Factfile on Tiger Woods, the 14-time major golf winner who completed his first victory in more than five years at the Tour Championship on Sunday:

Born: December 30, 1975

Birthplace: Cypress, California, USA

Height: 6-feet-1 (1.85m)

Turned Professional: 1996

Career PGA Tour wins: 80

Major titles - 14 (Masters: 1997, 2001, 2002, 2005; US Open 2000, 2002, 2008; British Open 2000, 2005, 2006; PGA Championship 1999, 2000, 2006, 2007)

PGA Tour Player of the Year: 11 (1997, 1999-2003, 2005-2007, 2009, 2013)

PGA Tour Money Leader: 10 (1997, 1999-2002, 2005-2007, 2009, 2013)

Highest World Ranking: 1 (record 683 weeks)

Career timeline of 14-time major golf champion Tiger Woods, who won his first tournament in more than five years at the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Course, Atlanta on Sunday:

- August 1996: Turns pro after an outstanding amateur career and is named as the PGA Rookie of the Year.

- April 1997: Wins the first of 14 majors at the Masters, becoming at 21 the youngest-ever winner at Augusta National. Two months later he takes the world number one spot for the first time.

- June 2000: wins US Open at Pebble Beach by a record 15 strokes and then becomes the fifth player in history to complete the career Grand Slam by winning the British Open by eight strokes at St Andrews.

- April 2001: Wins his second Masters title and completes the "Tiger Slam" as the first golfer to be reigning champion of all four majors simultaneously.

- April 2002: Successfully defends his Masters crown and in June he goes on to win his second US Open at Bethpage Black. That makes him the youngest golfer in history to win seven majors.

- September 2004: After failing to win another major in 2003 and 2004 Vijay Singh replaces him as world number one after a record run of 264 weeks on top.

- April 2005: Woods emerges from "slump" to win a fourth Masters, defeating Chris DiMarco in a playoff. He then wins a second British Open by five strokes at St Andrews. With his 10th major title he joins Jack Nicklaus in being the only players to win all four major tournaments at least twice.

- May, 2006: His father and guiding force Earl dies at 74, but the following month Woods wins his third British Open and 11th major at Hoylake

- June 2008: Two months after knee surgery wins the US Open for his 14th, and to date, last major at Torrey Pines, defeating Rocco Mediate in a sudden death playoff. He promptly announces that he needs more knee surgery and takes the rest of the season off.

- February 2009: Nine months later he returns to action, but in November of that year a car accident outside his Florida home unearths a series of infidelities that wrecks his marriage. Takes an "indefinite break from professional golf" to get his life back together.

- April 2010: Returns to action at the Masters where he finishes fourth but the injuries mount over the course of the year and his ranking starts to tumble.

- March 2013: Woods regains his form in 2012 and the following year his eighth win in the Arnold Palmer Invitational sees him regain the world number one spot.

- March 2014: After a slow start to 2014, Woods injures himself during the Honda Classic and he subsequently skips the Masters for the first time to undergo back surgery. Loses world number one spot to Adam Scott in May.

- February 2015: Struggles to get his season going and after pulling out injured from a tournament at Torrey Pines says he will take another break from competition.

- September/October 2015: Woods has microdiscectomy to remove spinal disc fragment pinching a nerve, with follow-up procedure to relieve lingering discomfort.

- February 2017: Back spasms prompt Woods to withdraw from second round of Dubai Desert Classic, cutting short his return from a 16-month injury layoff.

- April 2017: After missing the Masters, Woods announces he had yet another surgery to alleviate pain in his back and leg.

- May 2017: Woods arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Jupiter, Florida.

- January 2018: Woods makes his return to the PGA Tour with a shared 23rd place finish at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, California.

- April 2018: Woods finishes tied for 32nd at the Masters, the first Major appearance of his comeback.

- June 2018: Woods suffers a setback after missing the cut at the US Open at Shinnecock Hills after posting a 78 followed by a 72.

- July 2018: Woods bounces back from his US Open Championship disappointment with a top-10 placing at the British Open, finishing tied for sixth.

- August 2018: Woods announces his return to Major contention with a second place finish, just two back from winner Brooks Koepka.

- September 2018: Woods is named in the US Ryder Cup team. He follows with victory at the Tour Championship in Atlanta.

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