All focus then turned to Woods who, after a birdie at the first, then parred 12 holes in succession ahead of having the crowd roar their approval in holing a snaking 43-foot birdie putt at the uphill par-3 17th to be now tied with Reed and one behind Casey.
Conners, 26, a PGA Tour rookie, had not finished higher than tied for 28th in a PGA Tour event. That's a stretch of 1,659 days between the past two top-five finishes in Woods' career.
The 55-year-old Hall of Famer edged Tommy Tolles, Tom Pernice Jr. and Scott McCarron to win for the first time as an individual on the PGA Tour Champions.
Never mind that Conners had six birdies in his round of three-under 68 for a one-shot lead last Saturday as he tries for his first Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) Tour victory.
Woods hasn't been in this good a position to add to his total since he finished tied for 10th at the Wyndham Championship in August of 2015, and he hasn't lifted a trophy since the 2013 World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational.
"It feels good to be up here", Woods said. "Little mistakes will get you over the course of a week and it got me in the end".
The old Tiger magic was missing for most of the day as he struggled with his irons while a cold putter hampered the 14-times major champion.
'Overall I didn't hit the ball well enough and missed a few putts. I'm a fan of golf as much as I am a player.
"Tiger, this is what you're meant for", shouted one spectator.
Building momentum from 12th place at the Honda Classic two weeks ago in his third official tournament since undergoing spinal fusion surgery last April, Woods was treated this week like a returning hero.
"I didn't want to go there. As a whole, I felt very good about what I did this week". I'm sure he was disappointed he didn't get the victory.
"I felt very comfortable, actually".
Asked what he was thinking on 17 with that long putt that gave him the sniff of the title, he said: "Just get the right speed, and putt to the picture".
Tiger Woods has played consistently well for seven consecutive rounds.
'It's early in the season, it's a long year, ' he said. I can say that because of my life away from the golf course, my wife and kids. Although Casey ranks 17th in the official world golf rankings, this was his first victory on Tour since 2009, but he isn't now in the field for this week's Arnold Palmer Invitational.
Pernice shot a 1-under 70 with a sloppy bogey on the par-5 18th as the leaderboard began to bunch up at Newport Beach Country Club.