September 23, 2018
• Woods won for the first time in five years
• ‘I was having a hard time not crying on the last hole’

Tiger Woods admitted he fought back tears after ending a five-year wait for a tournament win by clinching the Tour Championship at East Lake. Amid remarkable scenes on the final hole, the 14-times major champion was mobbed by spectators before sealing a two-stroke victory over Billy Horschel. This marked Woods’s 80th PGA Tour success.
Woods has been plagued by back problems in recent times, leading to four operations, with his recuperation so stunning he was unsure about playing competitive golf again as recently as 12 months ago. In May last year, Woods was arrested on a driving under the influence charge after being found slumped at the wheel of his car in Florida. “I was having a hard time not crying on the last hole,” Woods said.
“I said, ‘Hey, you know what, I can still blade this thing out of bounds so just had to suck it up and let’s hit some shots.’ Once I got the ball on the green, I gave [caddie] Joey LaCava a high five because it was done. I could handle that from there.
“At the beginning of the year, certainly this was a tall order. 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, who has always been famed for his competitive instinct, revelled in the battle on the outskirts of Atlanta. He held a three-shot lead at the beginning of day four, which stretched to five before a couple of late errors.
“It was just a grind out there,” he added. “I loved every bit of it. The fight and the grind and the tough conditions, just to have to suck it up and hit shots; I loved every bit of it.
“This means a lot, it really does. The people who are close to me saw the struggles and what I was going through.”
Bookmakers have taken instant note; Woods is now just 8/1 in places to prevail at the Masters next April. His last major win came in 2008.
Woods will form part of the United States side for the Ryder Cup in France from Friday. That event, which already carries huge significance, has been afforded a further profile boost. Several of Woods’s teammates waited at East Lake to deliver personal congratulations.
The attention attached to Woods’s triumph meant Justin Rose’s claiming of $10m was almost forgotten. The Englishman took delivery of the FedEx Cup, the PGA Tour’s season-ending playoffs prize. Rose finished in a share of fourth at the Tour Championship, with his birdie at the last key to halting Woods from taking the bonus pot.
“We’re all delighted for Tiger,” Rose, who will also play in the Ryder Cup, said. “These are crazy scenes and I’m sure I’m not the most popular guy for making a birdie on the last but hey, he’s got enough money.”
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