Woods, 43, wins the Green Jacket for the first time in 14 years
The Santa Clara
April 18, 2019
I’ll admit, it takes a lot to make college-aged individuals watch golf. But watching this year’s Masters wasn’t a chore.
This was history.
On Sunday morning, the sports world came to a halt as Tiger Woods sank his birdie putt on the 15th hole to take the lead at the Masters. People were glued to their TVs, waiting to see if Tiger could once again finish atop the leaderboard a decade after his last victory at a major.
Many, including Woods himself, doubted if he could ever make the return to a championship—let alone competitive golf—after personal and professional struggles kept him close to rock bottom for the better half of a decade.
After the falling out over his public image, numerous back and leg injuries followed by multiple surgeries kept Tiger off the golf course and unable to compete. When he was on the course during that time, it was often only for part of a round, part of a tournament or part of a season as the constant injuries sidelined his career and dropped him further down from the top.
Woods didn’t seem himself. In fact, he wasn’t himself. The nearly unstoppable athlete who dominated the sport for the entire decade prior was nowhere to be found. His signature long drives down the middle of the fairway went all over the course, his swings were followed by grimaces of pain, his typical club twirl and fist pumps were replaced by disappointed club drops and unfinished swings and the legendary Sunday red he always wore had gone missing.
Golf moved on as it searched for a newer, younger face of the sport. Many were good, some were great, but none of them were Tiger Woods.
And then, all of a sudden, Woods tied for sixth at the Open Championship in 2018 and soon after finished second at the 2018 PGA Championship in September.
A spark was ignited. People began to ask, was it was possible for Woods to win again?
On Sunday at Augusta, he answered that question in one of the greatest career turnarounds in the history of sports.
Entering the day two strokes back of the leader—Francesco Molinari—Woods sat in second place at 12-under-par after the first nine holes. Molinari remained the leader until his double bogey at number 12, where he hit a ball into the water, opening the door slightly for the rest of the field.
From then on, six different players at one point or another sat atop the leaderboard—including a five-way tie for first place as the last group started the 15th hole.
Molinari could feel the pressure mounting as Woods carefully and methodically crept closer and closer to taking over. The pressure finally got to him as he hit a second ball in the water at 15, taking another double bogey, while Tiger sank his birdie putt to claim the lone spot in the lead.
For the rest of the round, Woods rode the momentum from the crowd and turned back the clock. He was focused and executed well. His drives found the middle of the fairway and his approaches were so accurate they could have been arrows shot from Hawkeye’s bow. It was the Tiger Woods the world had known before his fall, and people were loving him once again.
At the par-three 16th hole, his tee shot rolled within four feet of the pin. The crowd erupted, actually forcing Brooks Koepka to step away from his ball as he was ready to hit his drive on the 17th tee box.
Woods completed his short putt at 16 to make birdie and take a twoshot lead. After a par at 17 and a missed birdie putt from Koepka on 18 that could have put pressure on him, Woods walked up to the 18th tee box with a two-stroke lead, knowing that he could make bogey and still win.
That’s exactly what he did, as he played conservative on the last hole, and sunk his final putt to complete his first win at the Masters since 2005. The stoic demeanor he had kept all day finally snapped as he gave a fist pump, smiled wide and let out a long-awaited scream of victory.
At 43 years-old, Tiger became the second oldest player to win the Masters. Sunday marked his fifth green jacket, more than any player not named Jack Nicklaus (who has six). It was also his 15th major tournament win, once again only second to Nicklaus, who has 18.
The 2019 Masters tournament at Augusta National was one for the books. Coming full circle with his first win there in 1997, Woods is back on top and the world is taking notice. The only question remaining after Sunday is whether this win will be the climax to one of sports’ greatest comeback stories, or whether it will be the start of a revived career in which Woods can chase Nicklaus’ records.
Only time will tell. For now, enjoy that Tiger is back.
Contact Kyle Lydon at klydon@scu. edu or call (408) 554-4852.