The roar has been restored.
Tiger Woods produced one of sports most historic comebacks on a magical Sunday at a magical place.
Woods relied on his experience and grit to take down a swarm of would-be champions at the Augusta National Golf Club to win his first major in 11 years and his first Masters in 14 years.
He did it with patience, superior shot-making and the calm in the face of immense pressure that only a man with 14 major championships could handle. When the contenders around him were crumbling, Woods came through with birdies at the 13th, 15th then a near-ace at the 16th to build up a two-shot lead that he would need. Ahead of him, the new generation wasn’t up to the task, they crumbled the way players did in Woods’ prime more than 20 years ago.
Brooks Koepka had great looks at birdie at the 17 and 18th holes, the one at 18 was from just outside 10 feet and he’d miss, allowing Woods the luxury of a two-shot lead and he’d need it. Tiger’s drive at 18 wasn’t good enough to clear the corner. He came up short, pitched to 12 feet and all he needed was a two-putt for his 15th major and fifth Green Jacket. He got it, shot 70 and finished at 13-under, one huge stroke in front of Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele.
Woods tapped in from inside two feet and let out a roar and began his celebration that started with caddie Joe Lacava then went to son Charlie, mom Kultida and daughter Sam. Tiger headed for the clubhouse hand-in-hand with Charlie in tow. For the record, he shot rounds of 70-68-67-70 for his 275 total to get his 81st win and perhaps the most rewarding, if not the biggest of his storied career.
“It all flipped at 12,” was how Woods described the beginning of the sequence of events that would lead him to victory. It was there that Brooks Koepka, Francesco Molinari and Tony Finau were all hit with the Jordan Spieth curse and hit their tee shots into Rae’s Creek and all would make double-bogey fives to set Woods up for his march to the Green Jacket. After that, Woods described the atmosphere as “an amazing buzz to try and figure what was going on.”
After Dustin Johnson posted 12-under, it left Molinari, Koepka and Schauffele to try and catch Woods. Schauffele blew his chances when he failed to birdie 15. Woods proceeded to birdie 13 and 15, notching both par fives, something all champions do over the final nine. Woods then elevated himself to 14-under with a sensational eight-iron into the par three 16th that nearly went in for ace.
Woods marched off that green with the old Tiger Woods look in his eyes and he had that winner’s intent. When Koepka couldn’t make his birdies at 17 and 18, he left the door wide open and Woods gladly walked through it.
“I’m hoarse,” Woods laughed as he sat in the Butler Cabin. “It’s overwhelming. It’s unreal for me to explain this. I’m kinda at a loss for words. It’s just special.”
Woods was most proud of how he worked his way around the course he knows better than any player in the field. “I was patient as I’ve been in a lot of years. I plodded my way around. To see the leaderboard — it was a who’s who.” He remembered his earth-shattering win in 1997 and recalled — “My dad was there in 1997, now I’m a dad, I’ve gone full circle. I was pretty lucky to be playing again,” he said, recalling his physical struggles of the past three years.
Those struggles, the surgeries, the rehab, the work he has done to restore his game are the stuff legends are made of.
And as the legend that is Tiger Woods donned his Green Jacket, he smiled a sly grin and simply declared:
Oh yeah, it sure does.