Tour Championship 2018: Tiger Woods Earns 1st Win Since '13, Wins by 2 Strokes

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 23, 2018

Tiger Woods hits from the third tee during the final round of the Tour Championship golf tournament Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis)
John Amis/Associated Press

Tiger Woods is all the way back, but he's not quite a FedEx Cup champion.

Woods won the 2018 Tour Championship—the season-ending tournament for the top 30 players in the standings—at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, marking his first tournament win since 2013. He shot a one-over 71 in Sunday's final round to bring his tournament total to 11 under par, two strokes clear of runner-up Billy Horschel.

However, Justin Rose captured the FedEx Cup championship with a clutch birdie on the final hole. While he shot a lackluster three-over 73 in the last round, the birdie on No. 18 put him into a tie for fourth place at six under for the tournament and atop the final standings for the year.

Had he not birdied, Woods was in position to win the FedEx Cup title in addition to the Tour Championship.

Here is how the entire top of the leaderboard shook out, per PGATour.com:

1. Tiger Woods, -11

2. Billy Horschel, -9

3. Dustin Johnson, -7

T-4. Justin Rose, -6

T-4. Hideki Matsuyama, -6

T-4. Webb Simpson, -6

T-7. Rickie Fowler, -5

T-7. Justin Thomas, -5

T-7. Xander Schauffele, -5

T-7. Rory McIlroy, -5

While Rose took his place atop the standings and the $10 million prize that comes with it with an ice-water-in-the-veins type of birdie, the story was Woods.

The 42-year-old veteran, who was decked out in his familiar Sunday red, played in front of massive galleries who were chanting his name on the final hole in a scene more reminiscent of a football game than a golf event. The enthusiasm for the golf legend's return to the top of the field was palpable, and now those same fans will have the chance to watch him represent the United States in the Ryder Cup.

Even the president tweeted about his performance:

Woods entered the final round with a three-shot lead, and Justin Ray of the Golf Channel noted he was a perfect 23-for-23 in parlaying an advantage of three or more shots through three rounds into a victory. Make it a perfect 24 following Sunday's round, as he delivered with the steady play he needed.

He birdied the first hole and then put things on cruise control with eight straight pars to finish the front nine.

While he bogeyed the 10th, he threw a dart of an approach shot on 13 to set up a birdie and get the stroke back. It appeared as if he would cruise to the victory with little drama, although bogeys on Nos. 15 and 16 cut his lead to two and at least added some tension.

Multiple pars stemmed the tide, though, and he almost did enough to win the $10 million.

Alex Myers of Golf Digest presented the scenario that would have given Woods the coveted title. Woods needed to win the tournament and have Bryson DeChambeau end in a tie for 15th or worse, Rose end in a three-way tie for fifth or worse, Tony Finau end tied for third or worse, Dustin Johnson end in a three-way tie for second or worse, Justin Thomas end in a three-way tie for second or worse, and Keegan Bradley end in a tie for second or worse.

All of that happened except for Rose, although Johnson just missed what he needed and finished in third place.

It was DeChambeau who lost the most considering he was the FedEx Cup leader entering the Tour Championship. He was impressive over the weekend with a three-under 67 on Sunday and a four-under 66 on Saturday, but he never overcame the combined six over he turned in through the opening two rounds.

He also collapsed down the stretch Sunday when he had an opportunity to make one final charge and found water on 15 on his way to a bogey and missed a critical putt on 17 on his way to another bogey.

That opened the door for Woods to make a charge until Rose ended the race with his birdie.

Attention now turns to the Ryder Cup, which is scheduled from Sept. 28 through 30 in France. The Americans haven't won the tournament in Europe since 1993, but Woods flashed the talent to serve as a leader in the international showdown during the Tour Championship.

If he plays like he did in Atlanta, the Red, White and Blue will have an excellent chance to take home the title.

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