Tiger Woods completed one the best comebacks in sports history to claim his first major championship in 11 years at the Masters. The win takes Tiger Woods to 15 major championships in total, trailing Jack Nicklaus’ all-time record by 3. The win culminates a whirlwind few years from Woods, as personal issues and crumbling vertebrae threatened to end his career. After Woods endured 4 major back surgeries, few saw him returning to the upper echelons of golf again. As recently as 17 months ago Woods ranked 1,999 in the world rankings showing just how dramatically he had fallen. That serves to emphasize just how impropable Woods' return to form has been. Watching the final round was a surreal moment, as Woods outclassed the younger generation of golfers he helped inspire as he methodically chased down Francesco Molinari to claim his 5th green jacket.
Woods showed the evolution of game as he relied more on finesse and superior shotmaking rather than the power that was once his trademark. Woods discussed prior to the Masters how in his first win at Augusta in 1997 he used wedges on every par-4. During his final round of the 2019 Masters, Woods used his long irons on nearly half of his approach shots. But the result was much the same. Woods showed himself a contender on the second day as he took his tournament score from -2 to -6, just 1 stroke off the leaderboard. A 3rd round score of -5 saw Woods in a tie with Tony Finau for 2nd, with Molinari entering into the final round with a 2 stroke lead.
Molinari has rightfully earned a reputation for consistency, and looked on course for repeating his 2018 Open Championship victory over a chasing Woods. Molinari maintained a 1 stroke lead over Woods until the 12th hole, when a bad tee shot saw Molinari’s ball end up in the water as he carded a double bogey. This eroded Molinari’s lead and entering into the 15th hole, 4 golfers remained tied at -12. Molinari proved he is human when his tee shot hit a tree and went into the water on the 15th hole. Woods would birdie the 15th and 16th holes, giving him a 2 stroke lead, and played a conservative bogey on the 18th hole to seal his victory by 1 stroke. Tied for second were Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele.
After sinking the winning putt, Woods let out a roar of celebration and relief as the crowd erupted. Even the scoreboard operator on the 18th green came out to celebrate arguably the game’s greatest player achieving another milestone. The respect Woods has from his fellow professionals was on full display as Koepka, Shaufelle, Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson and more waited outside the clubhouse to congratulate Woods on his 81st PGA Tour win, now just 1 shy of Sam Snead’s record of 82.