ATLANTA — There were children lining the fairways at East Lake Golf Club who hadn't been born the last time it was like this, men whose beards had grown grey and young adults with only faint memories of what it felt like to watch the greatest sports phenomenon of their lifetime in his prime.
And as Tiger Woods crushed his tee shot down the 18th fairway Sunday, all of them had had enough. Enough of being told to be quiet, enough of being constrained by ropes and golf etiquette. This is the South, after all, where it's practically expected to rush onto the field following the biggest wins.
Even Woods was caught between smiling as he looked back and staying in the moment as a sea of humanity flooded the fairway behind him. Just like the field behind Woods this week, the security guards had no chance. As thousands of people drew closer, all of them chanting "Tiger! Tiger!" one of Atlanta's elite golf clubs had suddenly turned into a scene straight out of a football game at Auburn or Clemson.
But who cares about decorum when Woods just won his first tournament in five years?
"This was different," Woods said, acknowledging that the scene on the final hole was unlike anything he experienced in his previous 79 career victories. "I guess it’s different now because the art of clapping is gone. You can’t clap with a cell phone in your hand, so people yell."
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