Tiger Woods Wins Tour Championship
In 2017, there were still mornings when the pain radiating from his back made the thought of ever swinging a golf club in competition again a distant dream for Tiger Woods. With his Tour Championship win at Atlanta’s East Lake Golf Club Sunday, the goal is no longer simply competing competitively, Tiger’s eyes are focused on Sam Snead.
It has long been assumed that Woods would someday overtake Snead’s career mark of 82 victories, and with Sunday’s title marking number 80 for the rejuvenated Woods, that appears to again be a safe assumption. But for five seasons, it was anything but.
According to ESPN, since Tiger’s last PGA Tour win in 2013, there have been 239 Tour events, and 119 different players have won a PGA Tour event. Tiger has made 44 official starts, of which, 9 have resulted in missed cuts. Oh, and there have also been 4 back surgeries.
It’s no understatement that a competitive Tiger means a more competitive PGA presence in the battle for public attention. The final round of the Tour Championship was the highest-rated of an round in the event’s history, and the most-watched round of 2018 outside of a major.
Tiger’s win had another immediate impact, this time on his bank account. Aside from taking home $1.62 million for the event win, Tiger rose to 2nd in FedEx Cup rankings, which materialized in the form of a $3 million payout.
Justin Rose narrowly escaped the weekend as the FedEx Cup Playoff Champion, a title that careers a $10 Million reward. For an example of how just how narrow his margin of victory over Tiger really was, had Rose failed to sink a birdie on the 17th or 18th hole, Tiger would have been around $7 million heavier.
Surprisingly, the FedEx Cup battle would be the closest of the weekend. Tiger opened round 4 with a 3-stroke lead thanks in large part to an increase in driver accuracy and a tournament-leading 1.280 strokes gained putting. At the end of play, Billy Horschel would be the closest competitor, finishing 2 back. With the win, Tiger saw his WGR go from 1,199 just one year ago to 13, still well short of pre-surgery Tiger, but well on the way of making a full return.
With the win Sunday also placing Tiger, still only 42 years of age, just two wins back form tying Snead’s career mark of 82, talk of adding 5 more majors to tie the record held by Jack Nicklaus will no doubt again creeping into the conversation. But that’s a conversation for next season; for now, let’s all take a step back and appreciate the completion of a goal well-set.