Tiger Woods triumphed at the Masters in Augusta on Sunday, securing victory in what has been called the “greatest comeback in sports.”
The golf legend rolled back the years to win his 15th career major with a performance reminiscent of his glory years as he won the 2019 US Masters at Augusta.
It was staggeringly 14 years since he last got his hands on the famous green jacket, but there was some serious familiarity between his previous four Masters wins and this one as Woods ground the opposition into submission on an early Sunday finish.
There was no drama unfolding in the late evening fading light at Augusta this year, because officials had switched to a two-tee start, threeballs and an early start to the final day because of an incoming storm.
Even finishing his comeback-of-all-comeback wins in rain, nothing could dampen the celebrations of Woods as he completed a fairytale rise back to major success following off-course problems and back injuries that had threatened to deny him a shot at Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 major hauls.
Back fusion surgery worked the trick and saw Woods return to the game last year before winning again at the end of the last PGA Tour season. And there was Tiger at his best in full flow at Augusta where the famous collarless shirts were also back.
In the end, Woods was afforded two putts to win the Masters and the celebration said it all after he rolled in a shortie for a 13-under par total to seal a one-shot victory over Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele.
The win will see Woods became world number six having dropped to 1169 during his absence from the course.
Where was it won and lost?
Woods’ metronomic play on the final day was far from spectacular—his approach to Hole 16 aside—but his consistency of finding fairways and greens was the key to him being crowned Masters champion.
Overnight leader Francesco Molinari had got the better of Woods when the pair played in the final group in the 2018 Open Championship, and it had looked like the Italian would again come out on the right side of things.
But Molinari came up short on the par-3 12th and watched his ball slipped back into Rae’s Creek. Playing partner Tony Finau followed him and the initiative was handed to Woods. When Molinari dumped it into the water again on Hole 15, his chance went.
Playing in the group ahead of Woods, three-time major winner Koepka had a birdie putt slide by on the last for what would have been a 13-under finish, but it wasn’t to be. This was Woods’ day.
What Woods said…
“We’re creating new memories for them and it’s just very special,” was the verdict of Woods, who was greeted by his family after sinking the winning putt. “I was very lucky to be given another chance to do something that I love to do. I had serious doubts after what transpired a couple of years ago.
“I couldn’t lay down, I couldn’t do much of anything. I had the procedure which gave me a chance of having a normal life. All of a sudden I realised I could swing a club again. I felt if I could somehow piece this together I still had the hands to do it. The body is not the same but I still had good hands.
“To have the opportunity to come back like this, you know it’s probably one of the biggest wins I’ve ever had for sure. It’s got to be right up there, with all the things I’ve battled through.
“It will be up there with one of the hardest I’ve had to win because of what has transpired in the last couple of years.”
What might have been…
While it was all smiles in the end for Woods, things could have been so different. Playing late in the day on day two, Woods played a brilliant recovery having driven his ball into the crowds on Hole 14.
With the crowds quickly following behind Woods after he had hit his shot, one security guard attempted to get into position to keep them behind the ropes…only to slip and slide into Woods’ ankle in something more reminiscent of a soccer game.
No harm was done, Woods lived to tell the tale and the rest, as they say, is history.
World reacts to the spectacular win
Woods’ performance at the Masters inspired praise both in and outside of the sporting world.
“I am literally in tears watching Tiger Woods, this is Greatness like no other,” said twenty-three time Grand Slam tennis champion Serena Williams. “Knowing all you have been through physically to come back and do what you just did today? Wow. Congrats a million times! I am so inspired.”
Six-time NBA all-star Stephen Curry called Woods’ victory “the greatest comeback story in sports.”
Woods also got a shout out from LA Lakers legend Kobe Bryant on Twitter.
TIGER 🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾 #masters2019
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) April 14, 2019
Former President Barack Obama, who played a round of golf with Woods during his time in office, paid tribute to Woods’ determination after a difficult few years.
“To come back and win the Masters after all the highs and lows is a testament to excellence, grit and determination,” he wrote.
Congratulations, Tiger! To come back and win the Masters after all the highs and lows is a testament to excellence, grit, and determination.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 14, 2019
Current President Donald Trump said he loved “people who are great under pressure.”
And Woods’ fellow golfers also voiced their respect and support.
“I’ve never seen him show emotion like that,” said Butch Harmon, Woods’ former coach. “At any time, anywhere, any time in his life.
“He was humbled by his own mistakes, the things he went through he created, nobody else created them, and he came out the other side.
“He got himself help, he got his body right, he got his head right and he went to work on his game. I couldn’t be happier for him and his family.”
Bubba Watson voiced his own wonderment and appreciation, saying he was “thankful to get to see that in person.”
Fans were reminded of where it all began when the first person to run to the golf champion and embrace him was his son, Charlie. Twenty-two years ago, Woods’ father, Earl, had embraced him as he claimed his first Masters victory, bringing it all full circle.
Like father, like son. ❤
1997 to 2019. ❤
What a moment it was for Tiger Woods at #TheMasters.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) April 14, 2019