ATLANTA, United States, Sep 24 – 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 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 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.
“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.
“Beginning of the year (winning) was a tall order. But as the year progressed I found my swing and put the pieces together and I knew I could do it.”
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 US 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 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 par on the 17th and then closed out the win with a par on 18.
The victory was Woods’s first since his win at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in August 2013.
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.