Phil Mickelson came from four shots back to win the Tour Championship in Georgia but Tiger Woods was the biggest winner as he took a $10m (€6.79m) bonus as the season-long FedEx Cup champion.
Mickelson began the day at four under par, four behind overnight leader Kenny Perry and two behind world number one Woods but eclipsed both men with a five-under-par round of 65 at Atlanta’s East Lake Golf Club to claim the $1.35m (€917, 245) first prize.
Woods shot a level-par 70 to claim second place as Perry fell away with a 74 and his runner-up finish was good enough to maintain his lead in the FedEx Cup standings at the end of a PGA Tour season which saw him win six times having returned to the game in February after eight months out following reconstructive knee surgery.
Sean O’Hair was third at five under with Perry sharing fourth place with Padraig Harrington, the Irishman securing his sixth consecutive top-10 finish after a miserable first seven months of the season.
American veteran Perry, 49, had begun the day with a two-stroke cushion over Woods yet could not get the job done despite his playing partner having hit trouble first.
Woods, who teed off knowing victory would guarantee him the bonus, found left-side trees off the first tee with a three-wood, his ball settling behind a tree, forcing him to play out sideways on the way to an opening bogey, immediately handing Perry a three-shot lead.
Perry missed his birdie putt but gave himself a four-shot cushion with a birdie at the second, only to give a shot back at the third after he overshot the green with his approach shot which plugged on a downhill lie in a bunker.
The Kentuckian also bogeyed the fifth as world number three Mickelson moved into contention, narrowing Perry’s lead to one shot with birdies at the third and fourth holes to get to six under par.
Mickelson, needing a scenario which involved Woods finishing in a tie for eighth or worse to land the USD10m bonus, pulled level with Perry at the eighth after he dialled in his approach shot from 123 yards out to inside two feet for birdie.
Mickelson, using a new putting stroke with a wide stance, was also putting superbly and he rolled in his 19th birdie of the week at the par-five ninth with his seventh one-putt in a row, downhill from 12 feet to take the outright lead at eight under par.
Woods, at five under par, and in a tie for third with Sean O’Hair, after nine holes, and Steve Marino, after 10, was still in control of his FedEx Cup lead.
He parred his way through the rest of the front nine knowing Mickelson’s surge was helping him also in keeping Perry at bay.
He was not without chance of his own, though and Woods missed a birdie opportunity at the par-five ninth from inside 16 feet to complete a birdie-free front nine.
Perry gave Woods cheer at the same hole, though, missing an 11-foot par putt to take a six and fall to six under, two behind Mickelson.
Harrington, sixth in the FedEx Cup standings, had also started the day at three under, five off the pace, but fell away with back-to-back bogeys at the fifth and sixth, only to rally with birdies at the seventh, 11th, 14th and 15th to put him right back in the hunt at five under, only to undo his bid with a closing bogey.
Mickelson, meanwhile, was moving closer to victory and it was all but secured when he chipped in for a birdie at the 16th to go to nine under.
Woods still had work to do though, and he fell to four under with a bogey at the par-four 13th where Perry imploded with a double bogey.
World number two Stricker, also second in the standings, was breathing down Woods’ neck in the FedEx Cup race having got to four under with a birdie but his challenge disappeared with bogeys at the 16th and 17th.
Now it was all down to Woods and birdies at 15 and 16 moved him clear into second.
Luke Donald finished his Tour Championship on a high with his first under-par round of the week, a 69 to finish at eight over par.