Chiba, Japan: Tiger Woods tied Sam Snead’s PGA Tour record of 82 career victories with an imperious three-shot win at the inaugural, weather-hit ZOZO Championship.
Woods ensured that the first PGA Tour event to be held in Japan will remain etched in the history books – and long in the memory of those who saw it.
Woods’ 82nd career victory comes at age 43 – 23 years after his first win. Snead’s 82nd success was achieved when he was aged 52.
Woods, whose appearance in Japan drew large galleries and huge television audiences, said: “It’s a big number. It’s about consistency and doing it for a long period of time. Sam did it into his 50s and I’m in my early to mid-40s. So it’s about being consistent and doing it for a very long period of time.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have had the career I’ve had so far. To have won this tournament in Japan, it’s just so ironic because I’ve always been a global player, I’ve always played all around the world and to tie the record outside the United States is pretty cool.”
Woods returned from knee surgery in August and a nine-week break from competitive play to stun the world-class field finishing 19-under with rounds of 64, 64, 66 and a closing 67 at the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club.
The 15-time Major champion recovered from three consecutive bogeys on his opening three holes before rattling off nine birdies to lead after the opening round. He was never headed is expected to move to sixth in the Official World Golf Ranking.
“The way I started this week, who would have guessed bogeying the first three holes, that I’d come out and shoot the numbers that I shot,” said Woods, who held off the challenge of home favourite Hideki Matsuyama.
“I didn’t really know that I’d come back and play at this level, but the fact I’ve been able to get down and read putts again, it’s something that I haven’t been able to do in months. It’s subtle and simple but it makes a difference.”
Woods has now converted 25 of 25 leads of three shots or more after 54 holes and 44 of 46 solo 54-hole leads.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said: “On behalf of the PGA Tour, I would like to congratulate Tiger Woods for tying Sam Snead’s all-time PGA Tour victories record of 82 at the inaugural ZOZO Championship.
“Today, we celebrate both Tiger and Sam Snead as they share a record that, given how difficult it is to win just once on the PGA Tour, should sit squarely alongside the greatest accomplishments in sporting history. Tiger has inspired us throughout his career with his talent, passion and the ability to shine in big moments, and he continues to defy even the most outsized expectations with performances like we saw this week.
“Our fans certainly have a lot to look forward to in the coming season as Tiger sets his sights on win number 83 – and more, I would suspect – competing against many of the players he helped inspire along the way.”