Saturday, October 19, 2019

Woods wins for first time in five years

BBC:-  Tiger Woods won the season-ending Tour Championship by two shots to claim his first victory in five years.

The American, 42, shot a one-over 71 in Atlanta for his 80th PGA Tour title.

It marks a remarkable return to the top for Woods, who was ranked world number 1,199 less than a year ago after having spinal fusion surgery.

England’s world number one Justin Rose finished tied fourth to secure the overall FedEx Cup which determines the season-long PGA Tour champion.

Rose birdied the 18th at East Lake for a 73 to seal the top-five finish he needed to win the $10m (£7.6m) bonus on offer as FexEx Cup champion.

“I had a hard time not crying on the last hole,” Woods told NBC. “I had to suck it up and hit some shots. Once I got the ball on the green, it was done. I could handle it from there.”

The 14-time major champion’s last tournament victory was in August 2013 in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

“It was just a grind out there,” Woods added. “I loved every bit of it, the fight, the grind and the tough conditions.

“At the beginning of the year, it was a tall order but as the year progressed and I proved I could play, I knew I could do it again.”

He came into the final day of the tournament – the last of four FedEx Cup play-off events – with a three-shot lead over Rose and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, who faded from contention with a 74 to finish on five under in tied seventh.

Woods birdied his first hole – one of two birdies and three bogeys – with his place at the top of the leaderboard in little danger during the final round.

Fellow American Billy Horschel finished two shots back on nine under.

“I just can’t believe I pulled this off after what I’ve gone through,” added an emotional Woods. “It’s been tough. I’ve had a not-so-easy last couple of years. I’ve worked my way back. I couldn’t have done it without the help of all the people around me.

“Some of the other players knew what I was struggling with. It was really special to see them at the green on 18. It’s just hard to believe I won the Tour Championship.”

‘He’s looked world class again’

The win for Woods, who is part of the United States team for next week’s Ryder Cup in Paris, means he is now two short of Sam Snead’s all-time PGA Tour title record of 82.

It comes less than a year since Woods said he might never return to competitive golf following multiple back operations.

In April 2017 he had his third surgery in 19 months to try and cure pain in his back and leg.

He returned to competitive golf in November 2017 and admitted he was “winging it” as he waited to see if his back would hold up.

“I’ve been in bed for about two years and haven’t been able to do much,” Woods said before the Hero World Challenge, where he would finish ninth in the 18-man field.

Back on the PGA Tour in 2018, Woods missed the cut in his second event but crucially felt fit enough to add tournaments to his schedule and the results soon followed, most notably when he led the Open Championship at Carnoustie with eight holes to play and then finished runner-up in the US PGA Championship.

“All year long he’s looked like winning,” said Rose about Woods. “He’s played some great golf and he’s looked world class again.

“It was just a matter of time and I’m so happy for him.”

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