Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Tiger Woods is officially back, winning the 2018 Tour Championship for his first PGA Tour victory since 2013.
The 14-time major winner closed out a two-stroke victory by shooting a 71 in the fourth round Sunday at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. He finished the tournament 11 strokes under par, ahead of Billy Horschel in second place.
The performance also helped Woods move from 20th to second in the final FedEx Cup standings. Justin Rose took home the top $10 million prize with his tie for fourth.
It was a relatively relaxing round for Woods, who opened the fourth round with a three-stroke lead that grew to as many as five. A par on the final hole helped him clinch the 80th victory of his career:
PGA TOUR @PGATOUR
HE'S DONE IT! @TigerWoods has earned his 80th win in storybook fashion at the @PlayoffFinale. #LiveUnderPar https://t.co/P03HlMe0uI
Bleacher Report showed the excitement from the gallery as he closed out his win:
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
The crowd behind Tiger (via @PGATOUR) https://t.co/LTNt93MF2n
Woods was relatively conservative on the day after tearing things up Saturday with six birdies in his first seven holes. Instead, he simply avoided mistakes that could let others back in the hunt.
Of course, he did send a message right off the bat with a birdie on the first hole:
PGA TOUR @PGATOUR
1 hole. 1 birdie. @TigerWoods leads by 4 at the @PlayoffFinale. https://t.co/0ONDxipKrG
Bob Harig of ESPN described the effort:
Bob Harig @BobHarig
The perfect way to start for Tiger. A birdie at the first hole after a great approach and it's on.
He had nothing but pars for the rest of the front nine, finishing with a 34 after posting a 30 in Round 3. However, a couple of bogeys from Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy helped the lead balloon up to five strokes at the turn.
Kevin Van Valkenburg of ESPN described one of the major differences he saw in Woods' game:
Kevin Van Valkenburg @KVanValkenburg
Would love to know how Tiger finally came to the realization that it was ok to swing driver with a smoother tempo and hit it (mostly) 295 and in the fairway instead of hitting everything 330 and all over the map, because damn.
The 42-year-old finished with an average driving distance of 297 yards, which was his lowest of any of the four rounds. However, he made up for it with 77.8 percent accuracy off the tee on the front nine before struggling a bit more on the back nine.
His putting was also as good as we have seen in a long time, gaining 1.280 strokes on the green for the tournament.
Despite his level of play, there was a little bit of concern after the turn.
After a bogey on No. 10, Woods made up for it on the 13th hole with a birdie that seemed to effectively sealed the win:
PGA TOUR @PGATOUR
13th hole. 13 feet. 13-under. @TigerWoods leads by 5 with 5 to play. #LiveUnderPar https://t.co/r5UXx4JXTb
It wasn't until two more bogeys cut the lead to two that anyone started to get nervous. But he closed things out with two straight pars for the win.
Meanwhile, the FedEx Cup race remained a major storyline down the stretch after each of the top players in the standings struggled in Round 4. According to PGATour.com, winning the Tour Championship was just one of seven results needed for Woods to take home the season-long prize.
Shane Bacon of Fox Sports simplified the situation down the stretch:
Shane Bacon @shanebacon
So the FedEx Cup has basically come down to this – if Tiger goes on to win and Justin Rose fails to make a birdie on 17 or 18, Woods walks away with both trophies. Crazy.
Rose stepped up when it mattered, though, posting a birdie on the final hole to take home the championship.
Still, the win capped off an incredible comeback for the undisputed biggest star in the sport.
Woods' career was derailed by back injuries, and he only competed in one official PGA event in 2016 and '17. While he had performed well in his return during the 2018 season, this win showed that he is once again a major threat in the sport.
Justin Ray of Golf Channel noted the jump in the world rankings:
Justin Ray @JustinRayGC
13. Woods was 1,199 when he teed it up at the Hero World Challenge last year. https://t.co/PTyIsEveUK
With this being the last stroke-play tournament of the year, he can now turn his attention to the Ryder Cup, which begins Friday in France. Based on his experience and recent level of play, it's clear he will be an impact player for Team USA in the international competition.
Final results and statistics courtesy of PGATour.com.