Woods returned to the PGA Tour in January after undergoing spinal fusion surgery last year, and he admitted at the time that he had no idea about how his season would play out.
But the 42-year-old has managed to play in more events than he had expected, compiling six top-10 finishes including runner-up placings at the Valspar Championship and the PGA Championship, while he also led The Open midway through the final round before finishing just three shots behind Francesco Molinari.
Woods ended the BMW Championship in a share of sixth to cement his place in the season finale at East Lake for the first time since 2013, and he believes his season has been a success despite not quite managing to break his five-year winless run.
“I think the season itself has been amazing,” he said. “To be able to have played this well after coming off of what I came off of. I didn’t know how many tournaments I’d play in, and next thing you know, here I am in the Tour Championship.
“There’s some guys that can’t say they’ve accomplished that, have got into the Tour Championship, but to have come back from where I’ve come back from and to get here has been a pretty tall order and something I’m proud of.”
And, on whether he had achieved any targets he had set at the beginning of the year, Woods added: “Put it this way, I’ve exceeded most of them. The beginning of the year was such an unknown, I didn’t know if I would be able to make it to Florida and to play the Florida Swing.
“I said, ‘let’s just start out at Torrey and see how it goes’. Then I added Tampa in there because I missed the cut in LA. And just to have that opportunity to be able to add a tournament, I thought I was going to be taking tournaments away.
“But to have added a couple and to have earned my way into Akron, those are some things that, when I look at this year more, I’ve exceeded a lot of my expectations and goals because so much of it was an unknown.”
Woods was world No 1 when he last played in the Tour Championship after winning five titles in 2013 and, after his injury-ravaged following four seasons, he is now back to 21st in the rankings having dropped as low as 1,193rd in November last year.
The 14-time major champion is now relishing not only his return to East Lake, but also his first appearance in the Ryder Cup since 2012 at Le Golf National the following week.
“What I’ve missed most about playing here is that, in order to get into this event, I would have earned my way in here in being part of the top 30 most consistent players of the year and the best players of the year,” he said. “There are no exemptions into this event. Either you get here or you don’t. It’s a very hard line.
“I haven’t done that in a number of years, and to have done it is something that I’m very proud of. And missing the Ryder Cup, I missed playing in it, missed competing in it. I missed that rush of going out there and trying to get a point for my team.
“I was a part of it in a different way in ’16, which was very different, because I had been a part of these teams since ’97 as a player only. And to have looked at it from a different angle and a different side, or actually I had been forced to.
“I really want to play in it. I’ve been a player my entire career. I’ve been a part of these teams now for the better part of 20 years, and to have earned the confidence in my team-mates and my captain to have been selected is something that gives me a lot of excitement going into the Cup.”