The Scale of Tiger's Victory at the Masters
IF YOU doubt the scale of Tiger Woods’ comeback, there are some things you should consider. For starters, there was a gap of 3,954 days between his last major victory (the 2008 US Open) and his victory at the 2019 Masters. In one four-year period he started just 24 tournaments. There was also his public admission of serial infidelity and the breakdown of his marriage.
The former world number one has also suffered a series of injuries and back surgeries that would have seen off lesser individuals and as recently as 2017 he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. And when he announced that he was returning to the game his world ranking had fallen outside the top 1,000. Woods had spinal fusion surgery in April 2017 and has had four back surgeries in his career.
It is instructive to look at the reaction to his victory on social media. Twenty-three time Grand Slam tennis champion Serena Williams, herself a victim of several injuries and somebody who has twice suffered a pulmonary embolism was effusive in her praise of Woods.
"I am literally in tears watching Tiger Woods, this is Greatness like no other," the American tweeted. "Knowing all you have been through physically to come back and do what you just did today? Wow. Congrats a million times! I am so inspired."
Six-time NBA all-star Steph Curry described Woods' victory as "the greatest comeback story in sports" and asked Woods if he could "hold one of those five jackets one time!"
Former basketball player Magic Johnson posted that "the roar of the Tiger is back” while Tom Brady, who won a record sixth Super Bowl in February, said he spent Sunday "running the numbers on how long it'll take me to get to 15".
None other than former US President Barack Obama also got in on the act. He once played with Woods during his term in office. "To come back and win the Masters after all the highs and lows is a testament to excellence, grit and determination," he wrote.
Inevitably, there was a tweet from President Donald Trump, who said he loved "people who are great under pressure. What a fantastic life comeback for a really great guy!"
BBC Sport presenter Gary Lineker said it was the "second most thrilling sporting achievement I've seen”. The best? Leicester winning the Premier League title in 2016. "There's something in my eye," Lineker tweeted. "To use a phrase once used before about Tiger Woods - 'Oh my goodness...Wow....In your life have you seen anything like that?'"
Tennis legend Chris Evert said: "Tiger has shown us all that you can always come back, in sport and in life, if you put in the work".
England cricket great Ian Botham called Woods' victory "one of the biggest inspirational performances... Who said he wouldn't win another major... no. 15 and more to come".
Australian actor Hugh Jackman tweeted: “What a comeback! Congrats!!!"
There will be those who say that the media is obsessed with Woods but it is a reality that the sport needs him more than he needs the sport. Record numbers tuned in to TV coverage around the world to see if he could achieve the improbable.
Youngsters who have only read about his achievements have now seen them with their own eyes - and you can be absolutely certain that many of them will want to try their hands at golf for the first time. A generation wondered what all the fuss was about - now they know.
And, with a bit of luck, there may be more to come from this extraordinary athlete. And make no mistake, that is what he is.
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