(The Root) — Locked in a fierce battle to win the AT&T National, the tournament he founded in 2007, Tiger Woods stood at the eighth tee Sunday at Congressional Country Club, just outside Washington, D.C. Although he enjoyed overwhelming support from the majority of fans on the storm-ravaged course, littered with toppled trees and fallen foliage, the well-wishers weren't unanimous.
"Shank it, Tiger, into the trees!" someone fake-shouted under his breath after Woods teed off.
Much to that fan's chagrin, Woods didn't oblige. In fact, Woods went on to win the tournament, which gives him three victories in his last seven starts and moves him to No. 1 in PGA Tour points for the first time in 100 weeks.
"There was a time when people were saying I could never win again," Woods said afterward. "That was, I think, what, six months ago? Here we are … It was just a matter of time. "
It was well worth the wait. Woods entered the final round tied for second with a playing partner, Bo Van Pelt, both of them one shot behind the leader. With three holes remaining in the tournament, Woods and Van Pelt had separated from the field. They would go head-to-head for the title, which swung on the next-to-last hole.
The competition delivered the thrilling action that viewers have come to expect from Woods, who broke a tie with Jack Nicklaus to move into second place in career wins (74). He also delivered the boffo TV ratings that make executives drool when he enters a tournament and contends on the final day.
CBS' Sunday coverage drew a 4.6 overnight, up 188 percent from last year's final round, when Woods didn't play in the event. Saturday's coverage was up 69 percent from last year, although millions of customers in parts of the Northeast were without electrical power because of a swath of violent thunderstorms Friday night.
Woods' resurgence this season, after he failed to win an official event for 932 days, has a domino effect that thrills PGA Tour officials and tournament directors, too. He's playing the Greenbrier Classic this week for the first time in its three-year history. It's the first time that the tournament has cut off ticket sales because of high demand.
None of this changes the focus on his quest for Nicklaus' record: 18 wins in major tournaments. In a large sense, that's the only measuring stick for golf fans and Woods himself. Until he wins another four, or more, majors, tournaments like the National and the Greenbrier will just highlight what he hasn't done yet.
That's a nearly impossible standard to meet, yet it's one that he set and remains focused on — even if his focus and confidence sometimes wane because of injuries, swing changes or personal issues.
"I just go out there and I give it everything I have each and every day I play," he said. "Some days it's better than others; some days we're just like that. We are all human. I try hard. I try everything I possibly can and give everything I possibly can, and sometimes I don't quite hit the ball well. Or hit the ball well and not putt well. Or do everything right and not chip well. Welcome to golf."
Welcome back, Tiger.