"I can't believe I pulled this off", Woods said Sunday during the trophy presentation at the Tour Championship, where he gave thousands of delirious fans at East Lake, and millions more around the world, what they wanted to see, and what they thought they might never see again.
More than five years since his last win, Tiger Woods tasted victory on the PGA Tour again, winning the Tour Championship on Sunday with a 1-over 71 to finish 11-under, two strokes ahead of Billy Horschel.
He cooled off on the back nine en route to a 12-under 198 total, while Englishman Rose recovered from a bogey, bogey start to card a 68.
As Woods played the 18th hole with the win in sight, fans ran onto the fairway, following the sueprstar.
Despite the blemish, world number one Rose was seemingly the only threat to Woods, as McIlroy plunged eight shots behind after an error-strewn performance with his driver. 15 and 16 conspired with Horschel's closing birdie to whittle off 60 percent of the five-shot lead.
"I clicked into a decent gear and got the job done. Good Lord", Woods said afterwards.
"I felt more pressure as I was throwing it away but then as I got back to what I needed to do from 14th onwards I clicked in and felt really comfortable", he said.
A Woods victory would be an 80th PGA Tour triumph and take him to within two wins of Sam Snead's all-time 82 Tour victories.
Woods said on the course immediately following his final putt. That's a big difference. A small slip on the back nine Sunday provided some extra drama, but Woods would not be denied.
He hadn't won a tournament since the 2013 Bridgestone International. "Just considering where I've been, what I've had to dig through and fight through, the amount of help I had to have to get to this point".
The 14-time major victor closed out a two-stroke victory by shooting a 71 in the fourth round Sunday at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
The victory capped off a season that started with questions over whether the 42-year-old would even be able to play a full schedule after undergoing spinal fusion surgery in April 2017.
However Woods has progressed steadily during his comeback season, leading the British Open during the final round in July before finishing second at last month's PGA Championship.
Behind Woods, McIlroy is lurking menacingly after carding a four-under-par 66.