Out in one-under 34, the 14-time Major victor found himself was five clear of Rose, who turned in one over, and eight better than McIlroy who turned in 39 and would eventually hit just three of 14 fairways. His facial muscles remained as unbudging as ever, even through a raucous splotch of fans chanting, "U.S.A.!"
He said: "I was having a hard time not crying coming up the last hole". He strained to stanch the tear ducts.
Previous year on Memorial Day, roughly a month after his fourth operation, a spinal fusion, Woods was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence near his Florida home.
"I've been in bed for about two years and haven't been able to do much", Woods revealed ahead of the Hero World Challenge, where he would finish ninth in the 18-man field. I was just hoping for a better lifestyle. "I thought that was terrific".
Woods was understandably emotional as he closed out the victory he had been threatening over the course of a superb comeback year but was at a loss to explain his celebrations.
Rose finished in a three-way tie for fourth at East Lake, securing his spot atop the season-long FedEx Cup standings.
He had flirted with victory several times this year, mounting thrilling late charges that enraptured galleries but ultimately fizzled.
The roars swept around the place in gales, occasionally nearly Southeastern Conference in their sound.
April 1, 2014: Woods announces he will miss the Masters for the first time in his career after undergoing microdiscectomy surgery on a pinched nerve in his back after being advised to do so for his "immediate and long-term health". The bad news seemed to come in abundance for the talented golfer.
March 2, 2014: Back pain forces Woods' withdrawal from The Honda Classic with just five holes remaining in final round. I just didn't want to live that way. It's going to be a tough rest-of-my-life.
"I think the reason I'm sort of standing here today as FedEx Cup champion is largely to do with the consistency with which I've played, a ton of top-10s", Rose said. I couldn't sit. I couldn't walk.
Woods, who returned in January after missing nearly the entire previous two years with a debilitating back injury, held a three-shot advantage heading into the final round.
He then whispers into his Erica's ear "I love you". He never lost his game. The pain went away. That's just the way golf is.
Woods' victory at the TOUR Championship capped a season of comeback victories that included Phil Mickelson at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship and extended all the way down to Paul Casey, Gary Woodland, Kevin Na and Keegan Bradley.
"Some of the players I saw on the 18th green afterwards and knew what I was struggling with, it was really special to see them there". While Sunday was nearly a Woods throwback, suspense-less while not pointless, his bogeys at Nos. It would become drastically different from his 65 of Saturday that included an opening - 3-3-3-3-3-4-3, with six birdies in the first seven holes - of which he said, "Good Lord".
Billy Horschel closed the gap to four shots after after a four-under-par final round 66, but Woods looked to be in control.
"Some of the people that are very close to me, they've seen what I've gone through".
"But the tournament wasn't over yet", he said. "It doesn't matter who it is I'm playing with". It's not what I used to be able to do. And once I got the ball onto the green, then the tournament was over. "I could handle it from there".
Rose hit the par-5 18th in two and successfully two-putted to clinch the cup.