In a comeback for the ages, Tiger Woods reached the pinnacle of his return to the game by winning his fifth green jacket and 15th major championship Sunday in the 83rd edition of the Masters.
Staring at the abyss just two years ago when he was bedridden and thinking his career was over due to a painfully disorderly back, Woods was stoic and steady throughout the week at Augusta National Golf Club despite the roars echoing through the Georgia pines.
With a final-round 2-under-par 70 in his Sunday red mock turtleneck, Woods won on these hallowed grounds for the first time since 2005. It also marked his first triumph in a major championship since the 2008 U.S. Open.
Starting the day two shots behind leader Francesco Molinari, Woods finished at 13 under par and one shot ahead of Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka.
When his final putt dropped on 18, Woods gave a fist pump with his right hand then lifted both arms overhead in joy. After sharing a hug with his caddie, Joe LaCava, Woods found his son, Charlie, who ran up and gave dad a big hug, followed by Tiger’s mom, Kultida, his daughter, Sam, and girlfriend, Erica Herman.
“It’s come full circle. My dad was here in ’97 and now I’m the dad with two kids here,” Woods said.
On a day where six players had at least a share of the lead, with the manual operators of the famous white scoreboards working at a feverish pace, and the patrons shaking the grounds with rumbling ovations, Woods remained cool, collected and confident from the first tee onward.
He ignited the patrons with a birdie on the third but bogeyed his next two holes to fall three back. Birdies at seven and eight got him within one, but a bogey dropped him back again.
Then Amen Corner made its presence felt again. While Molinari made double bogey when his tee shot found Rae’s Creek, Woods safely played to the devilish putting surface and made par to tie for the lead.
Another birdie at 13 kept him in the lead, a birdie on the 15th gave him the outright lead. On the 16th, with an 8-iron in hand, he knocked his tee shot to 3 feet and made that putt to grab a 2-shot lead.