Tiger Woods reacts after winning his 15th major tournament and his fifth green jacket. -Getty
The roars and the magic returned to golf Sunday at the Masters as Tiger Woods managed to pull off one of the greatest comebacks in sports history. Taking a two-shot lead with a birdie on the 16th hole at Augusta National, Woods was the focused killer he used to be before all the injuries and personal problems and doubts about whether he could play at a high level again. Sunday afternoon, his fifth green jacket - his first in 14 years and first major victory in nearly 11 years - became a joyous inevitability as Woods became the oldest Masters winner since Jack Nicklaus in 1986.
Woods finished 13 under par after a meaningless, safe bogey on 18. He ended up stroke ahead of a powerful group that included Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka. When it was over, his final putt tucked into the cup at 18, Woods broke into a huge grin and raised his arms high. He fell into a long embrace with his caddie, Joe La Cava, and then made a beeline to his son, Charlie, grabbing him in the kind of tight hug that he used to share with his father when he won in 1997 and all those other times.
He hugged his mother and his daughter, Sam, who was an infant the last time he won. Then he made his way to Butler Cabin, greeted along the way by other golfers (some Masters champions, some not) as the roar gave way to "Tiger!" chants, reports The Washington Post.
It was, Woods said in the post-tournament interview on CBS, "overwhelming" and "to have my kids there, it's come full circle. .?.?. My mom was here, she was there in '97 as well. I'm really at a loss for words. This would be up there. It was one of the hardest I've ever had to win just because of what has transpired the last couple of years, trying to come back and play.
Sam actually lost a state soccer tournament yesterday and I had to convince her, 'Want to come up and watch the Masters?' "If there were any doubts about Woods's ability to close as he once did, they ended with his tee shot at the par-3 16th. As his ball rolled slowly toward the hole, he mouthed "come on, come on" over and over.
It wasn't an ace, but it was a tap-in birdie from a few feet, enough to send the crowd into a certified Tiger frenzy with his mother, son and daughter watching anxiously and Olympic swimming great Michael Phelps looking on.Nicklaus sent his reaction from a vacation spot in the Bahamas, saying (via CBS), "A big well done from me to Tiger. I am so happy for him and for the game of golf. This is just fantastic."
Johnson, playing in an earlier group, had a chance to tie woods on 18, but missed his birdie putt.The Masters had taken a fun turn (unless your name is Francesco Molinari) with Johnson joining him and Woods in a five-way tie atop the leader board along with Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka with only a previous few holes remaining in the early afternoon.
Molinari, who flirted with disaster all day long, found it again at 15, when his ball hit a tree and landed in the water. He ended up with a double bogey, his second of the day, and also had two bogeys through 15. With that, there briefly was a four-way tie atop the leader board until Woods did his thing.
Briefly, there had been the possibility of a long shot winner, but Patrick Cantlay quickly coughed up the lead he had taken with a bogey at 16. Cantlay's surge was a surprise after barely making the cut at plus-two. Cantlay, who has had 13 birdies, one eagle and one bogey since making the cut, briefly took the lead by one stroke at 12 under. How, you ask?
Molinari sent his tee shot at 12 straight into the drink and finally, his dances with disaster had consequences, a double-bogey that dropped him to second place. No sooner had Cantlay, who was six under for the day through 15 holes, moved into the lead than he was joined by Schauffele, who was four under through 14.Meanwhile, over on 16, we have the day's second hole-in-one, this one from Justin Thomas.
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