Return of the Masters Master
Tiger's finally back, and the sports world is better for it
This is why we love sports.
A dominant athlete becomes a transcendental star and elevates his sport. Then he falls from grace, only to find redemption over a decade later.
The sports world has been begging for Tiger Woods to win another major golf tournament. Woods moves the needle like few athletes, and TV ratings, page views and newspaper sales benefit from it.
Sunday, however, it was all about Woods. It was a story of persistence, redemption and skill, and it brought us one of those sports moments that will be remembered for a long time.
Woods' long road back from a very public divorce, multiple injuries and ineffectiveness came on a magical Sunday afternoon where he made shot after big shot, while younger challengers made their moves and fell off, as Woods won the Masters by one stroke.
It is simply one of the greatest comebacks in sports. With 11 years between majors, Woods is finally all the way back.
Back on track
Woods finished at -13 over the four rounds, getting three birdies on the back nine to close out the win. He won his 15th major title, and his fifth Masters, one fewer than Jack Nicklaus for first all time. Now, the race to catch Nicklaus' 18 major titles is back on. Just 11 years ago, it looked like it would be a lock. Then it looked like it would never happen. Now, every major tournament takes on meaning again. Everyone will pay attention to see what Tiger does next. I am like a lot of people; if Tiger has a chance, I will watch. If not? Just not that interested. He made Sunday more than interesting.
A win for golf
Yes, golf needed this. Tiger made the sport relevant in ways it had never seen before and had not seen since. New golf courses cropped up everywhere. Young athletes chose golf over other sports. Tiger inspired a generation of new players.
And now, he can do it again. This was not the dominant Tiger of the past; this was a player who used his knowledge of the course and experience to pull off an amazing win.
It all turned on No. 12, when leader Francesco Molinari put his tee shot in water. Woods did the smart thing, putting his shot in the middle of the green and taking a two-putt par. From there, he was almost perfect, with only a hiccup on 18 that he had room for thanks to a two-shot lead. It was a clinic in smart golf.
Even he did not see it coming
Even Tiger thought he was done thanks to his back injury. Ten years ago I made a joking prediction that he would never win another major. As the injuries mounted, it looked like that would be the case. But he got healthy, and was close last year in two majors.
Sunday, he broke through in a big way. It was fun to watch, and I was happy to see that failed prediction come crashing down.
All about Tiger
It is an amazing story. Golf is now interesting again. The sports world got what it wanted; Tiger is back in a big way. But in the end, it was not about that. It was about Tiger himself, making history and doing what we have missed all these years - creating a major sports moment.
Welcome back, Tiger. Let's hope there is a lot more to come.