Return of the Masters Master

Tiger's finally back, and the sports world is better for it

Tiger Woods. Getty Images.

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.

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Laremy Tunsil's absence is something to note after missing time last season. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

The Houston Texans took to the field for OTA practice on Wednesday. Here are 11 observations from the practice.

1. Derek Stingley doesn't take full reps yet. Stingley is working up to full reps after last year's injury-plagued college season. Lovie Smith said the plan is to work to get Stingley, as well as other rookies, up to full reps in practice.

2. Despite not having full reps, it doesn't mean the third overall pick can't impress. Stingley did well in the drills with other defensive backs showcasing his agility and quickness. During one of the team drills, Stingley effortlessly matched step for step with Chris Conley on a play that finished on the other side of the field. It was also surprising to see Stingley working on punt returns as well.

3. It is just shorts and helmets so not much can be gleaned from the team's other first-round pick Kenyon Green. Green worked at left guard with a variety of other offensive linemen. Lovie Smith made it clear there are currently no first, second, or third teams for the Texans. Green's pre-season analysis will pick up when training camp and pads roll around.

4. Max Scharping looks to be in phenomenal shape. The former second-round pick has been a disappointment in his time with the Texans. Scharping enters a year when he will need to battle to remain on the roster. It seems the delicacy of his roster spot led to an incredible offseason for Scharping.

5. Laremy Tunsil and Maliek Collins are two veterans who are not at the optional team activities. Lovie Smith detailed he has spoken to any player who isn't here and understands this is indeed optional.

6. With Laremy Tunsil missing, Charlie Heck saw snaps at left tackle. The team's right tackle for the majority of last year looks, like the above-mentioned Scharping, to be in great shape. He was moving well on a few of the plays which required the line to get out and block.

7. Roy Lopez, who was a surprise contributor last year, had what would have been a great play in a full-speed game situation. Lopez darted past the offensive line sniffing out a reverse and tapped the receiver as he went by. It would've been a 10-yard loss and a smushed wideout in a live game.

8. Nico Collins had a few nice plays. Collins displays his athleticism and he made some nice cuts in his routes to get open.

9. Pharaoh Brown and Marlon Mack had two bad drops in the team portions. Brown made up for it later with the catch of the day, sliding to haul in a Davis Mills pass near the sideline.

10. This is not an impressive tight end group overall. Not yet, at least. There are several new faces and their actual tight end abilities are unknown to this point. Brevin Jordan had some nice plays in the open field and Davis Mills found him a few times on dump-off passes. Rookie Teagan Quitoriano didn't practice today.

11. Davis Mills operates with the calmness of a player who is the for sure unquestioned starting quarterback. As he should, that's what he is for the Texans. Mills didn't show off a lot in this practice but he didn't make too many mistakes. There was a wideout miscommunication that almost went for an interception. There is a clear emphasis on getting the ball out on time for Pep Hamilton's offense. Mills had a few chances to drive a deep pass, but opted for a quick pass to not hold onto the ball too long. This should be expected and obvious, but he isn't anywhere near the quarterback I saw last year have one of the worst training camp practices of all time.

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