(Reuters) – Tiger Woods won his first title since 2013 when he captured the Tour Championship by two strokes in Atlanta on Sunday and proved to the golf world that he is far from done.
Woods led throughout the final round and finished at 11-under-par 269 at East Lake, where he carded a closing 71 for his 80th PGA Tour victory.
Amid raucous scenes, with the massive gallery chanting his name as he played the final hole, he tapped in to move within two victories of Sam Snead’s all-time record of 82 titles.
“I was having a hard time not crying coming up the last hole,” Woods said in a greenside interview.
“It was just a ground out there. I loved every bit of it, the fight, the grind, the tough conditions.
“You just had to suck it up and hit shots.”
The victory capped off a season that started with questions over whether the 42-year-old would even be able to play a full schedule after undergoing spinal fusion surgery in April 2017.
“My body was a wreck,” recalled Woods, who hoped the surgery would alleviate debilitating back and leg pain.
But the surgery proved successful beyond his wildest dreams.
“Beginning of the year, that was a tall order (expecting to win) but as the year progressed I proved I could play,” he said.
“I found a swing, put the pieces together and knew I could do it again.”
Woods was never seriously challenged in the final round after starting with a three-shot lead over Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose.
He built a five-shot lead at the turn and despite bogeys at the 15th and 16th holes, he held on ahead of fast-finishing Billy Horschel, who carded 66 for second place on nine-under.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Pritha Sarkar)