Red mock turtleneck, black trousers, and a fist pump to end all fist pumps was an old familiar site on the 18th green at Augusta National Golf Club Sunday afternoon April 14, as Tiger Woods completed his long-awaited major title comeback from personal and professional woes to capture his fifth Masters green jacket that ended an 11-year drought.
The 43-year-old showed he still has what it takes to win a major in front of the thousands that lined the fairways and greens of golf’s most pristine venue. Roars of “TI-GER! TI-GER!” were loud enough to shake the hallowed ground marked the return of golf’s most venerated athlete as he pushed his way through a star-studded field. Woods charged through the weekend with a coldness that only meant one thing and one thing only; he’s back. Now sitting at 15 major championships, he finds himself three away from tying the all-time record of 18 held by legend Jack Nicklaus.
Woods started Sunday’s final round in a tie for second and in the final group for the first time since 2007, only two strokes behind leader Francesco Molinari. Molinari maintained his top spot for most of the day until a pair of double-bogey’s on holes No. 12 and No. 15 sent him back in the field. Tiger, who played his most patient round in years, waited to sink his teeth into the back nine and put his name at the top of the leaderboard. He birdied the par-3 13th, par-5 15th, and par-3 16th after nearly rolling in a hole-in-one from the top-tier of the undulating green. Woods reached the 17th green with a two-stroke lead over major champions Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson.
After Koepka missed a birdie putt on 18, there was little pressure on Tiger, only the eyes of millions upon him as he made the famous walk up the final fairway. Woods clinched the green jacket with a putt for bogey and a smile that told the whole story of his comeback. He celebrated the victory alongside his two children, girlfriend Erica, and his mother who has been by his side through every step of his grueling return to glory.
Twenty two years spans Woods’ first win at The Masters in 1997 to his fifth on Sunday April 14. He only needs one more to match Jack Nicklaus who has six green jackets hanging in his closet that he gathered from 1963 to 1986. Is it just chance that Tiger will be looking to equal the Golden Bear next year or is it meant to be? The countdown has begun.