ATLANTA (AP) — 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 old times. 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, 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, similar to when he won the Western Open in 1997 for the first dose of Tigermania.
This was better. It was bigger.
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 was becoming a legend only in video highlights.
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. Rory McIlroy faded early. Justin Rose faded late.
All that was left was the 42-year-old Woods in that red shirt blazing brighter than ever and a smile he couldn’t shake walking up to collect another trophy.