INZAI, Oct 28 — Jack Nicklaus led the tributes to Tiger Woods today 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 today 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.
PGA Tour boss Jay Monahan was watching from home in the US and told AFP by phone: “It’s just one of those ‘wow’ moments. When you see something happen in sport that you didn’t think was possible, it’s just a really historic and special moment for our sport.”
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.”
The last word belonged to Monahan, who said it was fitting that he should tie Hall-of-Famer Snead in an overseas event.
“To be our inaugural event and to have Tiger win it, when you think of Tiger, you think of his global reach and his global relevancy,” said Monahan as Woods notched up a PGA Tour win in a record seventh different country.
“To me it’s only fitting that he would tie the record overseas.” — Reuters