Tiger Woods blazing to victory in his Sunday red at the Masters, a scene once so familiar, was never more stunning.
It was only two years ago at Augusta National that Woods needed a nerve block just to hobble upstairs to the Champions Dinner, unsure he would ever play another round of golf. He had a fourth back surgery with hopes of simply playing with his two children, not chasing Jack Nicklaus in history.
And now it’s all pieced back together — his life, his back, even golf.
A fallen hero, a crippled star, Woods is a Masters champion again.
He won his fifth green jacket, his 15th major, but never with this much raw emotion. The most ferocious fist pump was when he walked off the 18th green, scooped up 10-year-old son Charlie, and embraced his mother and his 11-year-old daughter Sam.
“For them to see what it’s like to have their dad win a major championship, I hope that’s something they will never forget,” Woods said.
Who can ever forget this day?
“It’s hard to really feel bad about how I played because I just witnessed history,” said Xander Schauffele, one of three players who finished second. “It was really cool coming down the stretch, all the historic holes, Tiger making the roars. I feel like I got full Masters experience.”
The comeback goes beyond the two-shot deficit he erased before a delirious audience that watched memories turn into reality.
It had been 14 years since he last won the Masters — no one had ever gone that long between green jackets. He had gone nearly 11 years since his last major, the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines on a shattered left leg.
This was bigger. Woods never missed a shot that mattered over the final seven holes, taking the lead with a 5-iron to the fat of the green on the par-5 15th for a two-putt birdie, delivering the knockout with an 8-iron that rode down the ridge by the cup and settled 2 feet away for birdie on the par-3 16th.
He tapped in for bogey and a 2-under 70, and the celebration was on.
“WOOOOOOO!!!” Woods screamed as he headed for the scoring room with chants of “Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!” He had never hugged more people, everyone in his camp who stood by him through a public divorce, an embarrassing mug shot from his DUI arrest when he took a bad mix of painkillers and the four back surgeries, the most recent to fuse his lower spine
“I had serious doubts after what transpired a couple of years ago,” Woods said. “I could barely walk. I couldn’t sit. Couldn’t lay down. I really couldn’t so much of anything. ... To have the opportunity to come back like this, it’s probably one of the biggest wins I’ve ever had for sure because of it.”