Bravo, Tiger!

Tiger Woods wins, what once seemed, an unattainable 15th golf major

Howard Simon
April 14, 2019 - 6:42 pm

Photo: Michael Madrid - USA TODAY Sports

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Amazing.

How else can one describe what happened at Augusta National Golf Club on Sunday?

Tiger Woods winning The Masters is hard to believe when you think where he has been in recent years and it's one of the greatest comeback stories in sports. Let’s take a look at some of the stats to put Woods’ 15th major golf championship into the proper perspective:

  • At 43 years of age, Woods is the second-oldest to win The Masters behind Jack Nicklaus, who was 46 when he won in 1986.
  • This was Woods' first major championship in 11 years, since the 2008 U.S. Open
  • It was his first Masters championship in 14 years. He broke the record for longest time between Masters titles.
  • By winning a fifth Masters, Woods broke a tie with Arnold Palmer for second place. Only Nicklaus has more green jackets with six.
  • This triumph comes 22 years after his first Masters championship

Here’s a bonus stat for you. During his prime when Woods was dominating the sport and chalking up major after major, it was always pointed out that he could close out a lead, but could never come from behind. Not only did Woods accomplish everything on the aforementioned list, but he finally won a major where he trailed after 54 holes.

Just the fact that he won the Masters at age 43 would be an accomplishment, but when you take into account where he was just a few years ago, this seems miraculous. Woods, who had undergone four back surgeries, looked like he was finished following the 2017 PGA season. He played in just 24 events over a four-year stretch and missed the cut in seven of those 24 events. Woods played just once in 2016 and three times in 2017. He had more missed cuts than he did top-10 finishes (two). At the end of the 2017 season, Woods was ranked 656th.

When it comes to team sports, I can reach a breaking point when it comes to a dynasty. After a while, I always feel they’ve won enough and it's time they move on. I never felt that way about Woods because I was watching one of the greatest individual performers in my lifetime. I didn’t think he’d be able to make it back on a regular basis, but I’ve been rooting for him the whole time. We are always looking for a great sports story and Tiger’s comeback certainly qualifies. I was glued to my TV on Saturday and Sunday as Tiger pushed the Stanley Cup Playoffs aside.

I know there are plenty of Tiger Woods detractors and there are a number of reasons why people might not like him. It could be you didn’t care for his on course behavior earlier in his career. Perhaps he won too much and turned into the dynasty no one likes (see the New England Patriots), or maybe his off the course issues were what soured you on Woods. You can dislike the person, but you still have to appreciate what he was able to do. Woods overcame some incredible adversity, albeit some of it was self inflicted, to reach this point. Here’s a man who was knocked down and looked out, but he got up and fought his way back to the top. We're supposed to admire people who never give up and always keep fighting.

It was amazing to watch the reactions from the patrons (not fans) at Augusta National during Woods’ third and fourth rounds. When he sank the championship clinching putt, the crowd broke into chants of “Tiger, Tiger, Tiger”. The best part of the celebration was watching Woods hug his two children, who were waiting for him off the 18th green along with his mother. His daughter, Sam, was one when Woods won his last major and his son, Charlie, hadn’t been born yet. I’m sure it meant so much to Woods for his kids to see him win a major in person. CBS did a fantastic job of showing a clip of Woods hugging his late father back in 1997 after his first Masters win, and then showing the scene of Tiger, the dad, hugging his son after this victory.

This was a story of perseverance, dedication, and a man coming back from the depths of despair.

Amazing.

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