Lazarus With A Five Iron: Tiger Roars Back At The Masters On This Day

In 2019, it was a legend reborn as Tiger Woods won his redemptive 5th Masters.
11:49, 14 Apr 2020

On April 14 2019, the weather was looming ominously in Augusta, Georgia.

The only thunder that ultimately mattered however would come from the sound of the devoted crowd on that Sunday as the 43-year-old Tiger Woods won his first major in eleven years at the 83rd edition Masters Tournament. 

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The American’s overall majors tally had been stuck on number fourteen for well over a decade as his personal and professional life dramatically collided, his body continuously suffered, and this 15th major was arguably the sweetest.

Woods loves The Masters. It was in the Peach State where he won his first major aged 21 in 1997, becoming the youngest player in the history of the sport to do so, and further wins at the tournament came in back-to-back titles in 2001 and 2002, and another in 2005.

Then came the long wait.

He won his fifth green jacket by a single stroke from Xander Schauffele, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, in a win that has somewhat hyperbolically gone down in several circles as the greatest comeback of all time.

Lazarus with a five-iron.

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The win came almost a quarter of a century after his first Masters, which was also the first professional major championship of his career. Just four years prior to his first appearance on the circuit in 1995, the Augusta National Golf Club had denied entry to African-Americans. Tiger, the son of a Thai mother and black American father finished 41st in his first Masters appearance. In 1996, he won the collegiate title, left Stanford University and turned professional.

By the end of the year, after playing as a pro in eight Professional Golfers’ Association events throughout the calendar, he won a title and was named the PGA Tour’s outstanding rookie. 

By December, he was declared Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsman of the Year”.

Then, the spark. The first third of ‘97 saw his and the African-American community’s first Masters arrive, in emphatic fashion with a record 12-shot victory.

Tiger was only just beginning.

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Woods then became one of only five men in history to have achieved a career grand slam in golf, with four PGA Championships and three apiece at the U.S Open and The Open Championships to go alongside his five Masters. In 2008, at the tender age of 32 he found himself just four behind Jack Niklaus’ all-time record for majors (18).

One can only wonder how far ahead Tiger Woods would now be, if fate had allowed him to continue his trajectory at the same stage as his early part of his career if it hadn’t been for his ‘lost decade’.

Before the 2019 Masters, Woods’ last major victory had come at the 2008 U.S Open. Then, in 2009, his private life was infamously exposed, his carefully-honed image almost completely expunged, a billion-dollar career teetering precariously. A subsequent succession of spine surgeries exacerbated the situation.

In 2017, he was pictured in a Jupiter Police Department cell, arms handcuffed behind his back. The tiger had been caged, for the latest indiscretion (for driving under the influence) in a pathetic pantheon, blighting his course career, and was threatening to legitimately discredit the legacy he had been building.

Two years later, it was with a magnificent 16th for birdie, almost scoring an ace on the par-3 hole, his tee-off finishing a mere four feet away from the flag, that Woods and the rambunctious crowd backing their tortured hero knew redemption had been acquired. 

The artist had produced the masterstroke on his favoured canvas.

At the start of the day, Woods was two behind but pulled back when the previously-composed Francesco Molinari found the water at the par-3 12th en route to double.

At the 15th hole, Woods took the outright lead with birdie. After the sweet, sizzling 16th, he parred 17 At 18 he needed just a five. Woods made his bogey to win by one.

He immediately went over to celebrate with his family. His son, like dad, was wearing the lucky final-day red. 

22 years earlier, it had been Elin hugging his late father Earl.

"I was as patient as I have been in years. I kept control of my emotions, shots, placement," said Woods after his latest victory at the National.

"Coming up 18 I was just trying to make a five. When I tapped in I don't know what I did, I know I screamed.

"To have my kids there, it's come full circle. My dad was here in 1997 and now I'm the dad with two kids there.

"It will be up there with one of the hardest I've had to win because of what has transpired in the last couple of years."

Tiger was well and truly roaring again.