Tiger is the Master of the 2019 US Masters

Tiger is the Master of the 2019 US Masters
Tiger is the Master of the 2019 US Masters

Tiger Woods did something last month that he had never done before in his extraordinary career—he came from behind to win a Major in the final round.

He did so by shooting a solid, grinding 70, not spectacular but plenty good enough when third-round leader Francesco Molinari came apart with two awful mistakes. Finding the water at both 12 and 15, to make double-bogeys, turned what had once been a three-shot lead into a final round 74 and fifth place.

There were no fist-pumping bombs, but Woods didn’t need them. After bogeying the 10th, he played mistake-free golf the rest of the way, making two-putt birdies at 13 and 15. Hitting his tee shot to five-feet at 16 for his sixth birdie of the day gave him a two-shot lead, At that moment, the only thing that could stop him from claiming his 5th green jacket was the thunderstorms that were closing in on the golf course.

His bogey at 18 was— more or less planned—he wanted to make certain he would make no more than 5 and played the hole very carefully. How sweet it is; Tiger’s fifth green jacket After an 11-year drought, golf’s most polarising and popular figure had outlasted a star-studded leaderboard. It’s his first major win since the 2008 U.S. Open, 15th of his career and first at Augusta National since 2005. With five green jackets now in his Augusta locker, Woods is second alltime behind only Jack Nicklaus, who won six times between 1963 and 1986. The joy on his face after he tapped in the final putt was evidence of how much Woods has changed since his last major win.

The host of players who waited for him in the scoring area to congratulate him as he came off the 18th green was another sign of how much he has changed. In his victory press conference Woods used words like, “blessed,” “fortunate,” “lucky,” and “amazing.” Those words were almost never a part of his vocabulary in the past. He was funny—even self-deprecating. Talking about the back nine leaderboard, which included five players tied for the lead at one point, he shook his head and said, “No wonder I’m balding.”

The Tiger Woods who accepted the green jacket from last year’s champion, Patrick Reed is very different from the one who let then-nemesis Phil Mickelson slip the jacket onto his shoulders in 2005. As a golfer, this may not have been the transcendent player of old. He needed to overcome injuries—back problems, knee problems and the various swing changes and swing coaches. Until last September, when he won the Tour Championship, Woods had gone more than five years without winning a tournament of any kind. But the fusion surgery he had in 2017 finally solved his back problems and he began to play well again in 2018.

Apart from overcoming these physical problems, this was a much improved person; one who, perhaps for the first time, truly appreciated the greatness of Tiger Woods. Following the victory, Woods made an appearance in Butler Cabin to receive his fifth green jacket from 2018 champion Patrick Reed. Sliding on the jacket, a wry smile crept across his face. “It fits,” he said. Making his third appearance at the Masters, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat enjoyed a promising start with his best round of 69.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat was flying the flag for Thailand The big-hitting Thai entered the second round tied for sixth place. However subsequent rounds of 72, 75 and 73 relegated him to a 49th place finish with a total of one over par. Kiradech’s season on the PGA TOUR has been upand-down so far, with six made cuts from 10 starts including two top-5s. He is the first Thai to play full-time on the PGA TOUR this season.