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Tiger Woods wins Masters for first major title in 11 years

Fallen hero, crippled star, and now a Masters champion again.

Tiger Woods rallied to win the Masters for the fifth time on Sunday, a comeback that goes well beyond the two-shot deficit he erased before a delirious audience that watched memories turn into reality at Augusta National.

Woods had gone nearly 11 years since he won his last major, 14 years since that green jacket was slipped over his Sunday red shirt. He made it worth the wait, closing with a 2-under 70 for a one-shot victory and setting off a scene of raw emotion.

Woods won his 15th major, three short of the standard set by Jack Nicklaus. It was his 81st victory on the PGA Tour, one title away from the career record held by Sam Snead.

It was the first time Woods won a major when trailing going into the final round, and he needed some help from Francesco Molinari, the 54-hole leader who still was up two shots heading into the heart of Amen Corner.

Tiger Woods wins Masters for first major title in 11 years
 

Molinari’s tee shot on the par-3 12th never had a chance, hitting the bank and tumbling into Rae’s Creek for double bogey. Until then, Molinari had never trailed in a round that began early in threesomes to finish ahead of storms.

With the final group still in the 15th fairway, there was a five-way tie for the lead. And that’s when Woods seized control, again with plenty of help. Molinari’s third shot clipped a tree and plopped straight down in the water for another double bogey. Woods hit onto the green, setting up a two-putt birdie for his first lead of the final round. The knockout punch was a tee shot into the 16th that rode the slope just by the cup and settled 2 feet away for birdie and a two-shot lead with two holes to play.

Woods finished at 13-under 275 and became, at 43, the oldest Masters champion since Nicklaus won his sixth green jacket at 46 in 1986.

Dustin Johnson (68), Brooks Koepka (70) and Xander Schauffele (68) tied for second. Molinari (74) was another stroke back with Jason Day (67), Tony Finau (72) and Webb Simpson (70).

Tiger Woods makes Masters his 15th and most improbable major

Tiger Woods wins Masters for first major title in 11 years
 

Tiger Woods blazing to victory in his Sunday red at the Masters, a scene once so familiar, was never more stunning.

It was only two years ago at Augusta National that Woods needed a nerve block just to hobble upstairs to the Champions Dinner, unsure he would ever play another round of golf. He had a fourth back surgery with hopes of simply playing with his two children, not chasing Jack Nicklaus in history.

And now it’s all pieced back together his life, his back, even golf.

“For them to see what it’s like to have their dad win a major championship, I hope that’s something they will never forget,” Woods said.

Who can ever forget this day?

“It’s hard to really feel bad about how I played because I just witnessed history,” said Xander Schauffele, one of three players who finished second. “It was really cool coming down the stretch, all the historic holes, Tiger making the roars. I feel like I got full Masters experience.”

Woods never missed a shot that mattered over the final seven holes, taking the lead with a 5-iron to the fat of the green on the par-5 15th for a two-putt birdie, delivering the knockout with an 8-iron that rode down the ridge by the cup and settled 2 feet away for birdie on the par-3 16th.

“WOOOOOOO!!!” Woods screamed as he headed for the scoring room with chants of “Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!” He had never hugged more people, everyone in his camp who stood by him through a public divorce, an embarrassing mug shot from his DUI arrest when he took a bad mix of painkillers and the four back surgeries, the most recent to fuse his lower spine

“I had serious doubts after what transpired a couple of years ago,” Woods said. “I could barely walk. I couldn’t sit. Couldn’t lay down. I really couldn’t do much of anything. ... To have the opportunity to come back like this, it’s probably one of the biggest wins I’ve ever had for sure because of it.”

President Donald Trump, who has played with Woods at his Florida course, had two tweets of congratulations. Fenway Park posted the news on the scoreboard.

A comeback for the ages?

It rates among the best because Woods has meant so much to so many in a sport he ruled for so long. Whether he can dominate it again is still to be determined. Woods needed some help to win this Masters. Six players had a share of the lead at some point on the back nine, and there was a five-way tie at the top when the final group was still on the 15th fairway.

“You couldn’t have had more drama than we all had out there. And now I know why I’m balding,” Woods said. “This stuff is hard.”

It didn’t look that way when he was younger, healthier and the most popular sporting figure in the world.

Woods lost his impeccable image to a sex scandal, one of the swiftest and most shocking downfalls in sports. He lost his health to back problems. He went two years without even playing a major.

Now the comeback is truly complete. And the race is on.


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Printable version | Jun 10, 2021 11:47:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/tiger-woods-wins-masters-for-first-major-title-in-11-years/article26840472.ece

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