Golf

1,876 days later, Tiger Woods wins again

Woods whips up a storm as he caps off a remarkable return by winning an 80th PGA title

You almost feared for the two stars as they walked down the 18th hole of the Tour Championship as the hordes chased after them, almost breathing down their necks, threatening to trample over them even.

Vanquished, 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 nearly 40 years ago.

It was stunning, frightening, unprecedented, it is what history-makers do, though.

Woods claimed the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Course in Atlanta yesterday morning (Singapore time), finishing two clear of Billy Horschel and had galleries in their thousands, and millions watching worldwide, following his every move.

And after a gap of 1,876 days, 49 tournaments, and four major back operations, normal service has been resumed.

The 42-year-old Woods had not won since August 2013, but claimed his 80th PGA Tour title after a one-over 71 in the final round to finish at 11-under 269.

The former world No. 1 played his final round alongside McIlroy, whose own hopes of victory dissipated after he carded a disappointing 74, but was full of admiration for his one-time golfing idol.

The American walked up the last fairway alongside McIlroy, bathing in the adulation of almost unprecedented crowds.

"The world has changed so much since Tiger won on tour for the first time, at age 20, in the fall of 1996, but its fascination with the golfer who is equal parts artist and assassin has remained very much intact. The game has never seen a force quite like him and chances are it never will again."

ESPN's Ian O'Connor

Revealing what the Northern Irishman said to him as they walked down the last, Woods told reporters: "What Rory was saying... Coming down 18 - between our second and third shots, he said, 'This is like Jack in '80 at Baltusrol'. 'I said, yeah, I just didn't have the tight pants and the hair. But it was all good'."

Woods was moved to the brink of tears after proving he was far from washed up.

With the massive gallery chanting his name as they stampeded the final fairway, he moved within two victories of Sam Snead's all-time record of 82 PGA Tour titles.

After carding 71, Woods walked off to a big kiss from girlfriend Erica Herman and a hug from agent Mark Steinberg as security tried to keep the frenzied fans at bay.

The victory capped off a season that started with questions over whether Woods, now 10 years removed from his 14th Major title, would even be able to play a full schedule after undergoing spinal fusion surgery in April 2017.

That the procedure worked was evident in Atlanta as Woods did what he used to do so brilliantly in his prime, keeping his card clean, on the front nine at least, and forcing his pursuers to come and get him.

He now seems odds-on to surpass Snead's record.

With his 43rd birthday approaching in December, Woods' supporters will argue he is back in the race to win five more Majors and overhaul Nicklaus' career tally of 18.

He didn't want to think of that, though, instead remembering his father and earliest mentor Earl, who died in 2006.

"Pops would be very proud of the way I went out today," he said.

"Just to be able to compete and play again this year, that's a hell of a comeback."

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