The 42-year-old, 14-time major victor carded a one-over-par 71 at Atlanta's East Lake Golf Course to claim the 80th title of his glittering career.
Stuck in those five years are multiple back surgeries, an embarrassing DUI arrest and an admission that he wasn't sure if he would ever play again.
Woods began the third round tied with Justin Rose but while the Englishman made a stuttering start, Woods rolled back the years with a spectacular display of shotmaking - and when he wasn't peppering the flags with his approach shots, he was holing unlikely birdie putts instead.
The victor of the FedEx Cup receives a $10 million bonus, and Woods has a shot if Rose falters. "I can't believe I managed to pull this off", continued Woods, fighting off the tears on TV.
The American evoked memories of old with a near-faultless weekend as he finished two shots clear of compatriot Billy Horschel.
Woods has 79 PGA Tour victories, three short of the record held by Sam Snead.
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The glory days seemed like a distant memory at times over the last five years, as persistent back and nerve pain restricted him to just one solitary appearance across the 2016 and 2017 seasons. And he has never coughed up a lead of three shots or more.
"Sometimes the FedEx Cup rewards guys who win at the very end but with obviously maybe Bryson (DeChambeau) opening the door at the beginning part of the week maybe not having his best week, it kind of opened it up for so many guys this week, and clearly there were so many scenarios at play".
It could have been an exercise in audible relief, as well, since many golf fans might have doubted Woods' ability to overcome countless knee, Achilles and back problems from the previous five years.
His victory at the Tour Championship puts to rest any concerns that he'd forgotten how to win.
"All of a sudden it hit me that I was going to win the tournament".
He won't be too upset either to see so numerous Americans playing exhausted golf, following a long run of events.
"Some of the players I saw after on the 18th green knew what I was struggling with and it was really special to see them there. I appreciate it much more now than 20 years ago". Just to be able to compete and play again this year, that's a hell of a comeback.