Major redemption for Tiger Woods is great gift to golf

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The Tiger Woods win at the 2019 Masters will certainly go down as one of the all-time great sports comebacks.

This moment was so much more than just his 15th major championship, placing him three behind Jack Nicklaus for most all-time, or his fifth Masters, one behind Jack. It represents more than just his 81st PGA Tour victory, one behind Sam Snead on the all-time chart. This was a victory over great adversity, both physically and personally.

“It’s overwhelming, because of what has transpired. Last year I was lucky to be playing again. At the previous champions dinner I was really struggling. To now be the champion. Unreal for me to experience this. I couldn’t be more happy and excited. I’m at a loss for words,” Woods said after slipping on the green jacket again.

A 10-year stretch that saw Woods go from the top of the world – not just the sports world – to the depths of despair and embarrassment and back again has been remarkable. Four back surgeries and a personal life that found him divorced and addicted to pain killers would end the careers of most. Tiger is like the Phoenix overcoming darkness and rising to the challenge to succeed. At his lowest point, he said, “I doubted I could compete again.”

His last triumph at Augusta was in 2005 and his first major title since 2008 at the U.S. Open on a broken leg. After so much craziness, the 43-year old is back!

This Masters also marks the first time in a major that Woods came from behind going into the final round to win. Woods needed a 2-under-par 70 on Sunday to defeat top contenders Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele by one stroke. The leaderboard was top-heavy with the game’s top names but perhaps the biggest in the sport’s history came out on top.

A final round that had Francesco Molinari ahead on the back nine as many as three strokes over Woods showed just how quickly things change change under the pressure of a major. The Italian lost his lead to Woods on the par-3 12th when he hit his tee shot in the water on the way to a double bogey that left Woods tied for the lead. Molinari continued to fade as he found the water again on the 15th for another double bogey.

It was at this point Tiger returned to his storied form, making a short birdie putt on 15 to take sole possession of the lead. His approach to the par-3 16th set up a 3-foot birdie that basically sealed the deal, giving him a two-stroke lead with two holes to go. Woods parred 17 and made a safe bogey on 18 to earn his most coveted and meaningful green jacket to date.

“When the putt went in, I don’t know what I did, but I was trying to find (my son) Charlie,” Woods recalled. “It’s unreal to experience this. My mom was here. She was here in 1997 as well, and she couldn’t be more excited.”

Woods now cuts the figure of a mature family man who appreciates them at least as much as his on-course accomplishments.

“When I was there with my Dad, he shouldn’t have been there that year,” Woods said. “He was recovering from a heart attack, from heart surgery. Now I’m there with my son Charlie. That embrace, It’s just special.”

Woods has always been special. Now it seems he is able to appreciate all those special parts of life, not just the ones only the greats can achieve. That’s why Tiger Woods is truly back where he belongs. On top.

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