Tiger’s back: a win for the ages

Tiger Woods crouching down and reading a putt on the green at a golf tournament.
Tiger Woods won his 15th major championship Sunday at the Masters, his first major in 11 years. (Courtesy: Chase McAlpine via Flickr)

Every once in a while, there’s a moment in sports that no one will ever forget.

These “I remember where I was” moments bring the nation together. You’ll often hear “I remember where I was when the U.S. beat the Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics,” “I remember where I was when Kobe scored 81” or “I remember where I was when Tom Brady overcame a 28-3 deficit in Super Bowl LI.”

These types of moments are rare, but Tiger Woods might’ve just given us another one when he took home his 15th major golf tournament championship at the 2019 Masters Tournament last Sunday.

It would’ve been hard to find a single person not rooting for Tiger when he teed off just two strokes behind the lead on the final day of the tournament. After all he’d been through, who would have believed he’d ever be in this position again?

It was just two years ago that Woods himself said he didn’t know if he’d ever be able to play golf again, let alone compete for a major championship. Since his last major tournament win, he had endured a torn ACL, a neck injury, a sprained MCL, an Achilles injury and three separate back surgeries. There were also multiple low points in his personal life, most recently his infamous DUI arrest in May 2017.

Tiger’s downfall was tragic, and it truly seemed as if he had no business playing competitive golf again. But his story wasn’t near over.

After a few exciting, drama-filled days, Woods seemed locked in at the start of the Masters’ final round Sunday morning. Hole after hole, he remained calm and composed as he hung near the top of the leaderboard, waiting for his opportunity to seize control.

Still trailing Francesco Molinari by two strokes, his approach and past experience on the course came in handy on No. 12. While the other golfers in his grouping, Molinari and Tony Finau, hit their balls into Rae’s Creek and eventually took double bogeys, Woods took a more conservative approach, leading to a huge payoff. Instead of going straight for the hole, he drove his ball powerfully over the creek, left of the hole to easily make par — capturing a share of the lead.

His decision and execution at hole 12 were masterful. At this point, the crowd’s cheers intensified. Augusta National turned into Tiger Nation, and if destiny had any say, Tiger’s redemption story would receive its exclamation mark.

He proceeded to extend his lead over the field and found himself only needing to make bogey or better on the 18th hole to take home his second-best 15th win at a major tournament.

As chills collectively ran through the nation’s veins, Woods made his last putt to win the tournament at 13-under.

He grabbed his ball out of the hole, turned to the crowd and let out a sound no one thought they’d ever hear again: the famous Tiger victory roar.

In an almost symmetrical scene to his first Masters win in 1997, Tiger rushed to embrace his family. In 1997, it was his father, who later passed away in 2006. This time it was his mother, girlfriend and two kids, both of whom were too young to ever witness their dad’s glory of the past — back when he won tournament after tournament, captivating our hearts with his sheer dominance.

While Tiger might go on to win another Masters or more of the other major tournaments, none will be more important than the one he won Sunday morning. When everyone said he couldn’t, he did. And that’s the most beautiful part of it all.

Sports has a unique power to bring people together. Sometimes, athletes actually show us that the impossible is possible, and that’s exactly what Woods did.

It was always more about just winning another tournament. It was about Woods becoming who he used to be despite everything that happened in the meantime.

So, where were you when Tiger did the unbelievable? Where were you when he proved everyone wrong? Where were you when he inspired the nation with one more Tiger roar?

Where were you when Tiger became Tiger again?

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