Tiger Woods completed an epic “full circle” comeback from career-threatening injury and scandal by winning the 83rd Masters on Sunday, capturing his 15th major title with an unprecedented back-nine rally. Ending an 11-year major drought, the 43-year-old American superstar – who underwent spinal fusion surgery in 2017 due to chronic back pain – seized his first major title since the 2008 US Open.
Winning a fifth Masters title, and his first since 2005, cemented a fairytale comeback to the pinnacle of golf for Woods, whose career imploded after a 2009 sex scandal and nagging knee and back injuries.
With fans chanting his name, an emotional Woods walked off the 18th green and hugged his mother Kultida, daughter Sam and son Charlie just as he had embraced his late father Earl there, after his first major victory at the 1997 Masters.
Racing to finish before an oncoming thunderstorm, players created their own electric atmosphere, spectators roaring repeatedly for sensational shotmaking on one of golf’s iconic stages.
Woods fired a final-round two-under par 70 to finish on 13-under 275 for a one-shot victory to capture a $2.07m top prize and the green jacket symbolising Masters supremacy. An all-American trio of three-time major winner Brooks Koepka, world No 2 Dustin Johnson, and Xander Schauffele shared second on 276.
It was the fifth Masters title for Woods, and it moved him three shy of the all-time record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus. The triumph was the first major victory for Woods when he did not lead after 54 holes, having started the day two adrift of reigning British Open champion Francesco Molinari.
Woods served notice he had returned to form by contending last year at the British Open and PGA before snapping a five-year title drought by capturing the Tour Championship.
Woods grabbed the lone lead on a jam-packed leaderboard with a tap-in birdie at the par-5 15th, a four-foot birdie putt following at the par-3 16th to double the advantage, allowing him to bogey the last and still win.
Woods parred 17 and walked up to the 18th green to crowds 20-people deep applauding with delight, but he kept a stoic visage until the job was complete, a tap-in for bogey followed by a fist pump and a scream of joy in celebration of one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history.
Woods, one shy of matching Nicklaus for the most career Masters wins, won his 81st career US PGA victory, one shy of the all-time record held by Sam Snead. He also set a record for the longest gap between Masters triumphs, the 14-year spread one year longer than the old mark set by South African Gary Player from 1961 to 1974.
Woods, Molinari, Schauffele, Koepka and Johnson were together late on 12-under. None could go lower except Woods, with Molinari undone at the par-5 15th when his approach struck a tree limb and found water on the way to a double-bogey.
Augusta National moved the final round to Sunday morning due to storms expected to arrive in the afternoon, when leaders would typically be battling for the title.
Spare a thought for Idai victims
As we celebrate and deliberate our 39th year of Independence today, as well as the long Easter break which most are looking forward to, let’s continue to spare a thought for those victims still struggling with the aftermath of cyclone Idai.
Only yesterday, on our ZiFM Breakfast show, there was an urgent appeal for baby food, formula’s, milk and cereals. We need to, as a nation, carry on this drive to support, and not think our job is done.
For these people going into the holy weekend of Easter, its heartbreaking to even try to comprehend what they are going through. I have therefore decided not to travel this weekend as a mark of support for those poor people who have lost everything and stay at home and reflect on just how lucky I am and be thankful for what I have, and appreciate my surroundings and family.
Happy Easter to you all. Keep safe and keep supporting #ZiFM Cares.