Woods, who dropped outside the top 50 in a desperate spell that followed the break-up of his marriage, showed flashes of his old self to beat fellow American Zach Johnson in California.
Trailing Johnson by one shot with two holes to play, Woods made back-to-back birdies to card a final-round 69 and finish on 10 under par, one stroke better than his playing partner.
“It feels awesome, whatever that is,” said Woods (right) on ending his 749-day wait for a title. “It feels great. It was a lot of fun coming down the stretch. Zach put a lot of pressure on me. Then I made two good putts.”
It was Woods’s first win since the Australian Masters in Melbourne on 15 November 2009. Days later allegations of infidelity emerged, precipitating a scandal that irrevocably changed his squeaky-clean image.
Those personal problems and injuries had hampered him since, but signs arose in recent weeks Woods was rediscovering the touch that brought him 14 Majors. He helped the American team win the Presidents Cup, with his 4&3 win over Aaron Baddeley reminiscent of vintage performances.