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Woods looked like Tiger of old in 80th PGA Tour win

25 September 2018

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.

England's Justin Rose lost his world number one ranking as a result of finishing tied fourth but still secured the overall FedEx Cup which determines the season-long PGA Tour champion, and with it a £7.6m bonus.

Woods's at-last win happened to come before galleries rich in the gear of Georgia (Bulldogs), Auburn, Alabama, Clemson, the Atlanta Braves and the Masters, before children in Julio Jones jerseys. I loved every bit of it, the fight, the grind, the tough conditions. He said as part of his recovery process he had to work around his back injury.

"I had a hard time not crying on the last hole", Woods admitted after his round.

"But I just think that what I've gone through and what I've dealt with, I've gotten lucky, to be honest with you".

The American, 42, shot a one-over 71 in Atlanta for his 80th PGA Tour title.

The Open Championship, the major tournament Woods briefly led earlier in the final round earlier this year, echoed the sentiments of golfer Tommy Fleetwood, who deemed Woods to be "good at golf" after his opening-round 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. His last major win came in 2008.

Rory McIlroy compared the scenes which greeted Tiger Woods' first victory in five years to those which saw Jack Nicklaus end a similarly lengthy winless streak almost 40 years ago.

Tiger Woods wins the 2018 Tour Championship
Tiger Woods wins the 2018 Tour Championship

This was Woods' first victory since the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in 2013.

Not bad for a 42-year-old with four back surgeries who returned to competition in December at No. 1,199 in the world.

A year ago, there was no guarantee anyone would see much of Woods, much less Woods winning.

"You just had to suck it up and hit shots".

"Congrats, Rosie", Woods told him.

Initially named as a vice-captain for this week's Ryder Cup, Woods instead made the team as a player - his performances demanding a wildcard pick from captain Jim Furyk.

So if his millions of fans want to label it the greatest comeback they have plenty of ammunition, but as a historian of the game Woods knows all about what Ben Hogan had to overcome to simply walk again, let alone return to golf and win six of his nine major titles, including all three he could contest in 1953. "But as the year progressed, I proved that I could play, and I found a swing and put pieces together, and I knew I could do it again".

Woods looked like Tiger of old in 80th PGA Tour win