September 23, 2018
By Cameron Morfit, PGATOUR.COM
Tiger Woods wins TOUR Championship for 80th victory on PGA TOUR
ATLANTA – An emotional Tiger Woods broke a five-year win drought, most of which he spent coping with debilitating back pain, and completed a long and arduous career comeback with his victory at the TOUR Championship at East Lake on Sunday.
On a difficult day for most of the field, his 1-over 71 gave him a two-shot win over a surging Billy Horschel (66). Dustin Johnson (67) finished alone in third, four back.
“There was a point in time I didn’t know if I’d ever do this again,” Woods said. He meant merely playing golf, not winning, and admitted to being near tears as he came down 18.
Justin Rose, who began the final day three off the lead and needing to finish in a two-way tie for fifth, at worst, struggled for most of the day. Knowing he needed to birdie either 17 or 18 to win the FedExCup, he birdied the par-5 18th after hitting the green in two.
The closing birdie gave him a final-round 73 and left him in a three-way tie for fourth. It was Rose’s worst round of the week by five, but it was good enough, and he became the second European winner of the FedExCup in the last three years (Rory McIlroy, ’16).
“A ton of top 10s,” Rose said, explaining his success. “Obviously had a couple of wins on the PGA TOUR, as well, this year, and managed to keep that going into the Playoffs with finishing the year with three top 5s. There were a lot of scenarios at play.”
Woods’ victory at the TOUR Championship capped a season of comeback victories that included Phil Mickelson at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship and extended all the way down to Paul Casey, Gary Woodland, Kevin Na and Keegan Bradley.
Woods did most of the work for this one Thursday through Saturday, when he made over 300 feet of putts and posted scores of 65-68-65. Taking a three-shot lead into the last round, he birdied the first hole and watched his closest pursuers, Rory McIlroy and Rose, slide backward.
“I felt like if I just went out there and did my own thing and shot under par, the tournament would be over,” Woods said after he made pars at the last two holes to salt away the victory.
He didn’t shoot under par, and the lead went down to two after he bogeyed the 15th and 16th holes, but he did collect his 80th PGA TOUR win, two behind all-time leader Sam Snead. The only tense moment was when the huge crowd broke free and followed Woods and McIlroy down the 18th fairway. Woods said he heard it but didn’t see it as he didn’t turn around.
“That was awesome,” said Woods’ caddie, Joe LaCava. “I thought that was terrific. And I kept telling the cops, ‘As long as they don’t trample us, let ’em keep comin’.’ Why not?”
It was Woods’ first win since the 2013 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.