ATLANTA – As Tiger Woods approach the 18th green on Sunday at the Tour Championship, with thousands of fans – literally – breathing down his neck, Davis Love III crouched down inside the ropes, on top of a mound to take it all in. He was joined by Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson.
Rickie Fowler was waiting. Tommy Fleetwood was watching from the clubhouse balcony. Paul Casey was there. So, too, were Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Thomas.
They all wanted to witness Woods win for the first time in five physically debilitating, at times personally destructive, years. They wanted to congratulate, not just a peer, but a friend.
What that meant to Woods, well, he tried to describe. But words don’t do justice what the support of others means to someone who has been through so much.
“The people who are close to me saw the struggles and what I was going through, and some of the players that I'm pretty close to, they've really helped throughout this process and the last few years,” Woods said. “Their support and some of those things that they said coming off that last green meant a lot to me.”
Of course, all of these players have one thing in common: They are all headed to Paris for this Ryder Cup, either as players or vice captains.
There were 17 Ryder Cup players in the 30-man Tour Championship field – 11, including Woods, on the U.S. side.
The Americans were set to take a charter flight to France on Sunday night. That means everyone aboard will get to partake in the celebrations. And Tiger will get to enjoy the camaraderie, something lacking from the years when he won 79 PGA Tour events.
“Flying tonight with the guys, it’s going to be fun,” Woods said.
“I think we’re all going to sleep well.”