Tiger's journey from last-chance saloon to Tour victor once more

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The presence of Woods in the 30-man Tour Championship, which he has won twice, yielded the highest opening-round TV ratings in six years.

This felt just as big as a major, maybe better considering where Woods had been. "I just didn't want to get run over", Woods joked afterwards.

"Simple math says that if I play a clean card, the guys behind me have to shoot 67 to force it into extra (holes)", Woods said.

"I can't believe I pulled this off, what the season has gone through".

"It's a feeling that I know and I used to use it for a number of years", Woods said of the Diamana shaft. He told stories of being unable to get off the couch to watch his kids play soccer, much less to chip and putt.

Although Woods and his legacy are the primary beneficiaries of his return to golf, these sponsors are a close second. He followed that up with a tie for fifth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and it was at this point that many finally understood that Woods can still play this game.

Previous year on Memorial Day, roughly a month after his fourth operation, a spinal fusion, Woods was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence near his Florida home.

Englishman Justin Rose finished fourth to win the 15 million dollar bonus as the season long points race victor. Had Rose not birdied the last, Woods would have won his third FedEx title.

Woods double-bogeyed the 16th after finding rough of the tee and then plugged in a bunker with his second shot, as Rose got up and down from sand to save par at the 17th and made a tap-in birdie at the last to set the clubhouse target. He has never lost an official tournament when leading by more than two shots going into the final round, and his closing record with the lead is 42-2 on the PGA Tour.

Stricker led wire-to-wire at Minnehaha Country Club after rain limited him to only seven pre-tournament holes.

Woods was never seriously challenged in the final round after starting with a three-shot lead over Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose. He shared the lead after each of the first two rounds.

Nobody has ever previously won more than one major after turning 43, as Woods will in December, but Nicklaus thinks times are changing. He would be flying out a few hours later towards France for the Ryder Cup.

Stricker finished at 13-under 197, and match Paul Broadhurst for the tour victory lead. McIlroy shot 39 on the front nine to fall out of contention and finished with a 74 and in a tie for seventh.

"Obviously had a couple of wins on the PGA TOUR, as well, this year, and managed to keep that going into the Playoffs with finishing the year with three top 5s".