Woods was watched by his daughter Sam Alexis
Tiger Woods labelled his third US Open title "the greatest tournament I've ever had" as he overcame Rocco Mediate to win in a sudden-death play-off.
Woods, 32, battled knee trouble to win at the 91st hole and said: "It was incredible, ebbing and flowing.
"I'm glad I'm done. I really didn't feel like playing, the knee is sore, but the atmosphere kept me going."
Mediate, 45, said: "I think I had him a little scared. He said 'great fight' and that means the world to me."
He added: "Obviously, I would have loved to win. I don't know what else to say. They wanted a show, they got one."
Woods was three shots to the good after 10 holes but found himself one down after 15 and only clawed it back at the 18th, taking the contest to sudden death for only the third time in US Open history.
I'm going to shut it down for a little bit here and see what happens
"Three shots isn't much on this course and I was kind of slapping it around," said Woods. "I was playing military golf - left, right, left, right.
"I felt like I was putting so well I just wanted to get the ball on the greens, but it was a struggle doing it. The atmosphere was incredible, I couldn't quit in front of these people.
"All things considered, I don't know how it even got this far but I'm very, very fortunate to have played 91 holes and then come out on top."
Woods admitted that it was special to win at Torrey Pines, a course where his father watched him win the junior world championship in 1997 and where this time his 11-month old daughter Sam Alexis was present.
"I always loved playing down here ever since I played as a junior," he said.
"Now that I come back here to play as a professional, and in a major championship on top of that and to have won, it's an unbelievable feeling."
An estimated 25,000 people turned up to the thrilling showdown which pitted the world number one against Mediate, whose world ranking was 158 before the tournament began.
The veteran had to qualify to even play at Torrey Pines and Woods was first to pay tribute to the heroic runner-up.
"Everyone knows he's a great guy but last year he was really struggling, his back was really bothering him," Woods said.
"It was an unbelievably gutsy performance, he put so much pressure on me. It was a great battle and also a great friendship."
Mediate admitted that he was pleased just to show he could still be competitive at the sport's highest level.
"It just showed me that I still can compete and I want to keep competing," he said.
"I never quit. I never quit, and I've been beaten down a few times.
"I got what I wanted. I got a chance to beat the best man in the world, and I came up short just a touch, but I think I had him a little scared."
After lifting the trophy, Woods hinted that he would take a break from golf after suffering with his knee injury throughout the five-day contest.
Asked when he would play again he said: "Not for a while. I'm going to shut it down for a little bit here and see what happens."