World doffs its hat to 'living legend' Tiger

World doffs its hat to living legend Tiger
Tiger Woods

Tokyo - Tiger Woods stands unsurpassed as the most successful PGA Tour golfer of all time after his victory at the weather-delayed inaugural tournament in Japan


Published: Tue 29 Oct 2019, 11:01 PM

Jack Nicklaus led the tributes to Tiger Woods on Monday after the golfing great secured a record 82nd US PGA Tour win at the weather-disrupted Zozo Championship.
"Incredibly happy for @TigerWoods - and for game of golf - on his 82nd @PGATOUR win," tweeted Nicklaus, who has won 18 majors. "For a number of years, all we wanted was to see Tiger healthy again, but for his quality of life.
"But it's very obvious that the surgery and the hard work Tiger put in resulted in quality of golf!" Nicklaus added after Woods tied Sam Snead's all-time mark for PGA Tour wins.
Woods carded a final-round three-under 67 for a three-stroke victory over home favourite Hideki Matsuyama after play spilt over into Monday after Friday was washed out.
Woods had been one victory short of Snead since winning his 15th major at the US Masters in April and had not played for nine weeks after having left knee surgery in August.
World number 14 Tony Finau, who was also in the field in Japan, called Woods a "Living legend!" on Twitter. "Congrats on No. 82 @TigerWoods!" he added as social media lit up on the news of yet another career comeback milestone.
World number two Rory McIlroy who tied third, a distant six strokes behind Woods, said he'd quickly done the maths and said he would have to win "six times a year for the next 10 years" to get close to Woods.
US Open champion Gary Woodland had a front-row seat as Woods's playing partner for the last two rounds and said it had been a privilege to watch. "I think it's a lot harder to win week-in and week-out out here," he said.
"Obviously the majors speak for themselves, but 82's just a crazy number. You look at the guys that have won 10 times and it's pretty special.
"To battle through the injuries he's dealt with, gosh, he's young and he's playing unbelievable. I think there's a lot more in store."
Meanwhile, Woods said his latest injury comeback to win the Zozo Championship and tie the US PGA Tour's win record had ended the "most challenging" phase of his storied career.
Four back surgeries, countless knee operations, marital strife and run-ins with the law meant Woods had not won a major since 2008 and no tournaments since 2013 when he teed up at the Players Championship at East Lake, Atlanta, just over a year ago.
He had endured two years out of the game and hobbled out of the February 2018 Dubai Desert Classic with back spasms on his long-awaited return.
His ranking plummeted to 656 at the end of 2017, and with form and fitness deserting him many observers felt he might never get the three further tour wins he needed to tie Snead, let alone another major. Not only did he win the Tour Championship for his first victory in five years, but Woods went on to secure a fifth Green Jacket and 15th major at Augusta earlier this year to stand just three behind Jack Nicklaus's record 18.
And now he stands unsurpassed as the most successful PGA Tour golfer of all time after victory at the weather-delayed inaugural tournament in Japan.
"Well, it's satisfying to dig my way out of it and figure out a way," said Woods.
"As far as playing, I didn't really know that I would come back and play at this level.
"But I've come back with different games over the years, moving patterns, and this one's been obviously the most challenging," he said, after four stunning rounds of 64, 64, 66 and 67 for a three-stroke win.
"Then having another procedure a couple months ago and again coming back and winning an event, not easy to do, but I trust my hands and today was no different." While Snead registered his 82nd win at the age of 52, Woods is nine years younger.
"As far as playing until 52, I hope that's the case," said Woods.
"If you would have asked me a few years ago, I would have given you a different answer, but certainly the future looks brighter than it has."
And that includes coming back to Japan for the Tokyo Olympics next year before defending his Zozo Championship.
"I hope to qualify for the team and represent my country," he said.
"I know some of my friends have made Olympic teams before in the past and they said it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
"I'll be 44 and I don't know if I have many more chances after that." 

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