Fans caught a glimmer of the old Tiger Woods Sunday when he won the Chevron World Challenge in Los Angeles, his first victory in the more than two years since his personal life and golfing game crumbled after it was revealed he’d had a string of extra-marital affairs that led to the end of his marriage.
When he sank the winning shot, he pumped his fist into the air.
It’s long been the signature of his success. The golf phenom has had very little success on the links since that fateful Thanksgiving night on in 2009, when he mysteriously crashed his SUV outside his luxury Florida home.
His seemingly perfect life quickly unraveled. In the days following the crash, there were reports of an alleged relationship between Woods and a New York City nightclub hostess. Before long, several other allegations were made about even more women. In the end, Woods was rumored to have been involved with more than a dozen women, including a porn star.
Under an onslaught of speculation and rumors, the disgraced golfer eventually admitted he cheated. In an effort to save his marriage, he took time off from golf and sought treatment in a private clinic. The marriage — to Elin Nordegren, the mother of his two children — ended in divorce, and Woods lost millions of dollars in sponsorship and his formerly sterling reputation.
Sunday, Woods’ win – over former Masters champion Zach Johnson — reminded fans of the golfer he used to be.
“It just feels awesome, whatever it is,” Woods said.
It was his 83rd win worldwide in tournaments that award ranking points, but his first since he won the Australian Masters on Nov. 15, 2009, back when he looked as though he would rule golf for as long as he played.
He finished at 10-under 278 and donated the $1.2 million in winnings to his foundation.
The win moved him from No. 52 to No. 21 in the world ranking, and likely will send expectations soaring for 2012. Woods will not play again until starting his year in Abu Dhabi at the end of January.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.