Two years ago, Tiger Woods was unable to attend the annual Champions Dinner that honors all the winners who have earned the coveted green jacket at the Masters tournament. It wasn’t because he had prior engagements or because he didn’t want to go. He could not be there because simply, sitting for that long gave him excruciating back pain. The man who was once at the top of the sport and arguably the greatest of all time was basically crippled. At that point, no one, not even Tiger thought he would swing a golf club again. The idea of him competing in a major tournament seemed impossible.
Fast-forward two years and against all odds, Tiger Woods is a Masters Tournament Champion once again. After four back surgeries, public scandals, and constant doubts from all corners of the sports world, Tiger added a fifth green jacket to his collection, the second most by any golfer. Going into the 2019 Masters Tournament, there were many who thought he had a good shot at winning. He had been playing good golf of late and was coming into the first major of the year with confidence. In three out of his four Masters wins, Tiger shot a 70 in the first round. In round one of 2019, Tiger shot a 70. It was at this point the hype really started to become real.
Throughout the rest of the tournament, Tiger continued to climb the leaderboard, shooting a 68 and 67 the next two rounds. It was in round four where things finally fell into place.
He had been chasing Francesco Molinari for the majority of the tournament. Molinari had the lead going into Sunday and Tiger needed him to make a mistake. On the 12th hole par-3, Molinari’s tee shot fell short and rolled into the water. He ended up getting a double bogey. Tiger made par and it was all tied up.
Molinari’s troubles continued on the par-5 15th hole where again Molinari’s ball found the water. He double-bogeyed again. Tiger took the lead with three holes left.
And he never lost it.
On the par-3 18, Tiger knew all he needed was a bogey. His approach shot landed a few feet from the hole and he would have liked to have ended it right there with a long putt for par. His long putt was just short so all he needed was a light tap of the ball for bogey to secure the win.
Tiger showed no emotion Sunday until he finally picked up his ball for the final time. Then, knowing it was all over; he threw his hands into the sky and screamed. He ran over to his kids and gave them a hug, mirroring his hug with his late father after his first Masters win in 97.
Some will argue this is the greatest comeback in the history of golf. I would take it one step further. This is the greatest comeback story in sports PERIOD. To come back from not being able to sit at a dinner to winning golf’s greatest event is something nothing short of astounding.
And he’s not even done yet.
Tiger needs four more major victories to beat Jack Nicklaus for the most major wins in the history of the sport. This feat seemed impossible two years ago. Then again, the idea of him winning the Masters seemed impossible.
Yet here we are.