The golfer’s victory after a past of health and personal problems caps a stunning turnaround
In what is being billed as one of the finest comeback stories in sporting history, Tiger Woods won the Masters on Sunday in Augusta, Georgia.
Woods’s victory, aged 43, takes his tally of major titles – the Masters, US PGA Championship, US Open and Open Championship – to 15. This latest success, though, is being widely heralded as his most remarkable.
Woods underwent surgery on his back for a fourth time in April 2017, which by his own admission was the last throw of the dice in respect of saving a record-breaking career that had regressed towards deep turmoil. In the lead-up to that operation, a spinal fusion, he told of being unable to sit at a dinner table or play with his children due to the extent of his physical impairment.
Those children – daughter Sam, born in 2007, and son Charlie, born in 2009, were on hand as Woods won what is his fifth Masters, as was his mother Kultida. Only one player in history, Jack Nicklaus, has claimed this event more times.
“I had serious doubts after what transpired a couple years ago,” Woods explained. “I could barely walk. I couldn’t sit, couldn’t lay down. I really couldn’t do much of anything. This is just unreal, to be honest with you. This has meant so much to me and my family, this tournament, and to have everyone here, it’s something I’ll never, ever forget.”
The player was a childhood prodigy who escalated golf, in terms of commercial appeal and popularity, into fresh territory from the late 1990s. He became one of the world’s most instantly identifiable sports people. His insistence that golf was an athletic pursuit – Woods’s training has always been famously vigorous – rather than a casual pastime altered the sport’s dynamic and resonated with younger players. That Woods was black, in a sport of traditional white dominance, was also pertinent. Woods routinely suffered prejudicial treatment at golf clubs in his youth.