The Golf Channel's Chandel Bramblee tweeted: "This is the greatest comeback in the history of golf".
All year, Woods had shown signs of his old self.
So as he played a course on which he had won one of his two previous Tour Championship titles, he did relish the grind and the fight even as he did not relish "where I kept leaving myself".
The 42-year-old had a spinal fusion in April of last year but at times in his absence he was unable even to walk, sit or lie down without being in pain. If I could somehow piece together a golf swing this year, I felt like I could do it.
A clearly emotional Woods embraced girlfriend Erica Herman after the win at East Lake, with the microphone picking up Tiger saying "love you" before they kissed.
Tiger Woods admitted he was struggling to deal with his emotions late on his way to a first win in more than five years at the Tour Championship.
Woods said he just wanted his life back. "For me, I was trying to do my best to win this golf tournament and scoop the double jackpot". His four bogeys over the last 10 holes also cost him the No. 1 ranking and gave it back to Dustin Johnson, who shot 67 and finished third at 7 under.
Tiger Woods net worth: How much has he made?
2007: Woods ruptures the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while out running at home after the Open Championship, but opts not to have surgery.
Woods got himself cleaned up.
2008-09: During the 2010 Masters, Woods reveals that he tore his right Achilles tendon in 2008 and reinjured it several times in 2009.
Yet you watched Woods marching into the locker room before Sunday's final round in tight sleeveless vest and baseball cap and you saw what appeared not only to be an athlete in peak rippling condition but with an alpha swagger to match the pecs and carved biceps. He left the competition feeling hopeless as he built a five-shot lead early and hung on to win the championship.
McIlroy, playing in the final pairing with Woods, threw away his chance on the front nine. 'Now this is going to be one long flight overseas that I am going to enjoy, ' said Woods, before making his way to the airport. "Just to be able to compete and play again this year, that's a hell of a comeback".
Woods eventually won by two shots with victory all-but guaranteed by a trademark, laser-like iron approach to the final hole.
Start with the Ryder Cup, the biannual worldwide tournament which is being played outside Paris later this week.
Kyle Stanley and Spain's Jon Rahm are a further three shots back on six under, six strokes behind Woods.
Woods' victory was one of seven top-10s during the season, including runner-up finishes at the Valspar Championship and PGA Championship.
October 30, 2015: Woods reveals he has undergone a "follow-up procedure" to September's surgery.