Sunday, April 14 was a day in sports history that millions around the world will never forget. After 11 years of not winning a Major, Tiger Woods won the Masters and grabbed his fifth green jacket and 15th Major Championship.
By any measuring stick, this win is one of the single greatest achievements in sports history. It’s among the greatest comebacks ever, along with those of Ben Hogan, Magic Johnson, Michael Vick, Joe Montana, Peyton Manning, George Foreman, James Connor, Josh Hamilton and others.
What the world witnessed Sunday was Tiger’s first win at Augusta since 2005. That’s 14 years, the longest void in history between green jackets at the Masters.
After four back surgeries and a personal fall from grace shamed by scandal in losing his marriage, Tiger is back on top of golf. That’s what winning a Major Championship means for Tiger, restoring his pristine image and domination of the game since 1997 when he won his first Masters by 12 shots.
Knee and back injuries had many believing Tiger was done as a Major winner. But last year, Tiger finish sixth in the Open Championship and second in the PGA Championship. He won the PGA TOUR Championship and finished second in the Fed-Ex Cup PGA playoff.
So he has been very close recently, but winning Majors is what it’s all about, especially for Tiger. This win is huge for golf; nobody moves the needle like Tiger.
His last Major win was his career 14th in 2008 at Torre Pines. Thirty-three years ago in 1986, Jack Nicklaus won his 18th and final Major at age 46. It was called a win for the ages. Sunday, at age 43, Tiger became the second-oldest player to win the Masters.
His final round of 70 gave Tiger his first-ever career comeback in a Major championship. He started the final round two shots behind Masters leader Francisco Molinari, the best player in Europe and reigning British Open Champion. Tiger won by one shot with -13 over reigning U.S. Open and PGA Champion Brooks Koepka, world number-two Dustin Johnson, and Xander Schauffele, who has won twice this year.
It was PGA career win number 81 for Tiger, the second-most all-time to Sam Snead at 82. Nicklaus’ 18 career Major wins appear to again be in Tiger’s sights. Masters Champion has such a ring to it. It’s the first Major of the year, and it’s golf’s greatest prize. Everyone dreams of winning the Masters at Augusta National.
Tiger was brilliant all four days, 70-68-67-70, under par each day. He trailed by four shots after day one and got in position playing in the final group on Sunday.
So many really good players were in the hunt and playing well. Tiger used his great mind and experience and talent to pounce on the critical error made by Molinari, the leader, when he hit his approach shot in the water on the par three 12th hole.
Tiger hit his shot on the green and made par and picked up two shots. Tiger then got hot and birdied three of the next four holes on the back nine, 13, 15 and 16, and never gave up the lead.
Tiger said, “This is unreal. To be honest with you, the whole tournament has meant so much to me over the years. Coming here in 1995 for the first time, being able to play as an amateur and winning in ’97 and to come full circle 22 years later and be able to do it again… And just the way it all transpired today… There’s so many different scenarios that could have transpired on that back nine.
“There were so many guys with a chance to win,” Tiger continued. “The leader board was absolutely packed, and everyone was playing well. You couldn’t have more drama than we all had out there. Now you know why I’m balding — this stuff is hard.
“Just to come back here and to play as well as I did, and do all the little things well this week, and to do it here, this means so much to me and my family. This tournament and to have everyone here is something I’ll never ever forget.”
And neither will any of us.