AUGUSTA, Ga. — Tiger Woods’s comeback from private adversity is full: He captured his fifth Masters title and his 15th main match on Sunday, snapping a championship drought of practically 11 years.
It was a monumental triumph for Woods, a magical, come-from-behind win for a participant who had not gained a significant championship since his private life started to unravel on Thanksgiving evening in 2009, when a marital dispute led to a automotive accident and a succession of lurid tabloid headlines. On the golf course, he had a sequence of again and leg accidents that led to an habit to painkillers and culminated in ache so searing that, earlier than surgical procedure in 2017, he had questioned whether or not he may play professionally once more.
Woods, who at 43 grew to become the second-oldest winner of the Masters at Augusta Nationwide, after the then 46-year-old Jack Nicklaus in 1986, final achieved main success in one in every of golf’s 4 main tournaments on the 2008 United States Open.
“It’s overwhelming simply due to what has transpired,” Woods mentioned in a tv interview after it was over. “To now be the champion — 22 years between wins is a very long time — it’s unreal for me to expertise this. It was one of many hardest I’ve ever needed to win simply due to what’s transpired the final couple of years.”
He had come shut on some Sundays to profitable his 15th main over time however couldn’t get it carried out. But after the surgical procedure in 2017, a spinal-fusion process he known as a “final resort,” he started a brand new lease on his profession.
His pursuit of Nicklaus’s report 18 main championships, which appeared a foregone conclusion when he sprinted to 14 main titles in his first 11 years as knowledgeable, is now formally again on.
Final 12 months, Woods made 18 PGA Tour begins, his most since 2012, and posted his first victory since 2013, on the Tour Championship. He additionally contended within the final two majors of the 12 months, the British Open and the P.G.A. Championship, on the best way to top-6 showings at every match. These outcomes, he mentioned, boosted his perception that he may contend this week at Augusta Nationwide, the positioning of his first main triumph, by 12 strokes, in 1997.
Woods, in his 22nd Masters look, closed with a last spherical of 70 and completed 13 beneath par at 275, one stroke higher than Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele. He took the lead with simply three holes to play after a birdie putt on the par-5 15th gap and held on from there. With thunderstorms forecast for the late afternoon, organizers of the Masters moved up the beginning occasions by 5 hours. Gamers have been additionally positioned gamers into teams of three, relatively than the normal two, in hopes of rushing up play.
However by the point the match leaders went into the second half of their rounds on Sunday, the wind picked up and it briefly started to rain.
Each of the gamers with whom Woods was grouped within the last threesome, Francesco Molinari, 36, and Tony Finau, 29, described Woods as their childhood idols. Each finally succumbed to the stress of the ultimate spherical, however Woods didn’t.
“I used to be simply attempting to plod my means alongside the golf course all day,” Woods mentioned within the televised interview. “Hastily I had a lead. Coming as much as 18 it was simply attempting to make a 5. After I tapped the putt in — I don’t know what I did, I do know I screamed.”
Now, after greater than a decade of being caught in place, Woods immediately appears to have a full head of steam transferring ahead. The following two majors, the P.G.A. Championship at Bethpage Black on Lengthy Island in Could and america Open at Pebble Seashore in California in June, are at programs the place Woods has gained earlier than. He appears primed to take action once more.
These occasions appear far off, although. The glow from Sunday will certainly final for weeks and months, and will likely be mentioned for years as one of many pivotal moments within the profession of an athlete who has been greater than a golfer ever since he burst on the scene in 1996.
Woods famously barged into the sports activities world that 12 months along with his “Good day World” Nike business and a father, Earl Woods, who promised his son’s accomplishments would change all the things. The following 23 years have been the final word curler coaster.
For the primary decade of his profession, Woods soaked up the reward and adulation that got here with expertise, success and fame. He struggled emotionally for the primary time after the dying of his father in 2006. Then the accidents started, after which his life began to unravel with the notorious 2009 automotive accident.
In 2017, having undergone a number of surgical procedures on his again, he hit all-time low. He was charged with driving beneath the affect when he was present in a painkiller haze on the wheel of his automotive with the motor operating. He later pleaded responsible to reckless driving.
So it appeared becoming that almost a decade after the 2009 accident, the primary individual he embraced when he got here off the golf course on Sunday was his son, Charlie, earlier than he moved to his mom, Kultida, and his daughter, Sam.
“To have my youngsters right here it’s come full circle,” he mentioned. “My dad was right here in ‘97 and now I’m the dad with two youngsters there.”
Woods mentioned this match was one of many hardest he has ever needed to win as a result of he was carrying the burden of practically profitable lately however not doing so.
“I used to be as affected person as I believe I’ve been in quite a few years, particularly the final three days,” he mentioned. “To see that board, it was a who’s-who. All of it flipped at 12. We have been a pair behind, Francesco made a mistake, I noticed Brooksie make a mistake and all these completely different situations begin flying round.”
As he walked to signal his scorecard for his triumphant last spherical, a dozen former and present stars of the sport waited to embrace him and shake his hand, one thing that by no means occurred in years previous, when Woods was largely a loner on the prime of the game.
As he donned the inexperienced jacket for a fifth time, he mentioned one thing everybody knew. “It suits.”