Tiger Woods captures 80th PGA TOUR victory, wins TOUR Championship by two strokes

By USA GOLF Communications | Sept. 24, 2018, 11:04 a.m. (ET)

 

Just a little over a year ago, Tiger Woods was recovering from back surgery and unsure if he would ever play competitive golf again, let alone compete at the highest level.

Now, Woods is not only back in the PGA TOUR winner’s circle for the first time since 2013, he now finds himself just two wins shy of the all-time PGA TOUR record of 82, held by Sam Snead.

The 42-year-old Woods carded scores of 65-68-65-71—269 (-11) to win the TOUR Championship by two strokes over Billy Horschel and earn his first victory in five years since the 2013 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational—1,876 days, to be exact.

“I loved every bit of it. The fight and the grind and the tough conditions,” Woods said to NBC’s Steve Sands right after securing his victory with a par on the 18th hole.

 

Credit: Sam Greenwood, Getty Images

Ever since he drained a 27-foot, 8-inch putt for eagle on the 18th hole on Thursday to post a 5-under 65 and tie Rickie Fowler for the first-round lead, Woods never let his foot off the gas pedal. He posted a 68 in the second round to sit tied with 2016 Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose at 7-under par with two rounds remaining.

 

Then, in the third round, Woods really made a charge. He birdied six of his first seven holes en route to shooting the low round of the day, 65, to take a three-stroke lead over Rose and Rory McIlroy heading into Sunday.

 

Woods never relinquished his lead during the final round. While his TOUR Championship victory seemed very much secured, the one missing piece of the puzzle was the FedExCup title. Woods was projected to take home the season-long title at one point in the final round, but with Rose making a birdie on his final hole, Woods—the 2007 and 2009 FedExCup Champion—just missed out on becoming the only three-time winner in the FedExCup’s 12-year history.

 

The TOUR Championship is the last of four events of the FedExCup Playoffs and the finale to the PGA TOUR season. The top-125 players on the final PGA TOUR Regular Season FedExCup points list qualified for THE NORTHERN TRUST. From there, the top 100 advanced to the Dell Technologies Championship, the top 70 advanced to the BMW Championship and the top 30 to the TOUR Championship.

 

Woods entered the TOUR Championship No. 20 in the standings, but to really appreciate his incredible victory on Sunday, one must look back at the incredible moves he made in the FedExCup standings this season.

 

Woods started the season as low as No. 179 but then started to make a steady climb up the standings. He finished T2 at the Valspar Championship in early March to catapult from No. 130 to No. 43 and then carded a T5 finish at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard the following week to move to No. 35. Three more top-10 finishes in the regular season—including a solo-second finish at the PGA Championship in August—led to Woods entering the Playoffs at No. 25 in the standings.  He posted T40-T24-T6 finishes in the first three Playoffs events to enter the TOUR Championship with a chance to chase—and make—history.

 

“At the beginning of the year it [winning] was a tall order,” Woods said on Sunday in his post-round interview on the 18th green. “As the year progressed I proved that I could play…I knew I could do it again.”

 

And he did. Welcome back to the winner’s circle, Tiger Woods.

 

Credit: Sam Greenwood, Getty Images