About a month after his fourth operation, a spinal fusion, Woods was arrested on charges of drunk driving near his house in Florida. The toxicological reports found five drugs in his system, including two powerful painkillers and sleep-inducing medication. Woods was looking for an inpatient addiction treatment after that episode.
But when Woods talks about the turning point, he speaks of the merger operation, which gave him an active life and career. He returned to golf in December, ranked number 1,199 in the world, and rose to number 21 at the start of the Tour Championship, which had a field with 30 players including 18 of the top 20 golfers.
Woods entered Sunday's round with a three-pronged lead over his closest challengers, Justin Rose, the world number 1, and Rory McIlroy, a former number 1, and with a record of 23-0 when entering from a final round that led at least three strokes.
It is a measure of how dominant Woods was before the back operations, that despite the time he missed, he now has a draw with Dustin Johnson for most wins of the PGA Tour (19) between active players since the beginning of 2008.
The Tour Championship, the season finale of the PGA Tour, was the 18th official start of Woods in 2018, one more than he had done together in the four previous years when he tried his debilitating pain .
"None of us will really know how deep and dark he is as he is in because he is such a private man," said Trevor Immelman, who stopped Woods in 2008 to win the Masters.
On Sunday night, Woods alluded to how deep and dark it was. He remembered that he thought, "Shall I sit, stand, walk, lie without feeling the pain in which I find myself?"