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Tiger Woods wins the Masters, completing an improbable comeback

Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Golf

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Having completed one of the most improbable comebacks in sports, an unfathomable revival, Tiger Woods walked off the 18th green at Augusta National on Sunday and wrapped his children in his arms -- first his 10-year-old son, Charlie, then his 11-year-old daughter, Sam. He had won the Masters for a fifth time.

The emotional, full-circle moment was reminiscent of one in 1997, when Woods won his first Masters -- and first of 15 major championships -- and fell into the arms of his late father, Earl.

"My dad's no longer here, but mom's here 22 years later," said Woods, 43, who went two years without playing in a major and was 780th in the Official World Golf Ranking after the 2017 Masters. "And I happen to win the tournament."

It's a victory many thought would never come. In the 11 years since he last won a major, Woods saw a string of personal scandals sully his once-impeccable reputation and endured four back surgeries that, as recently as two years ago, left him unable to get out of bed, let alone play golf.

"I could barely walk," he said. "I couldn't sit. Couldn't lay down. I really couldn't do much of anything.

"Luckily, I had the procedure on my back, which gave me a chance at having a normal life. But then all of a sudden, I realized I could actually swing a golf club again. I felt if I could somehow piece this together that I still had the hands to do it. The body's not the same as it was a long time ago, but I still have good hands."

 

Woods, in his newest green jacket, used those hands to lift the Masters trophy Sunday as he stood in the middle of the Augusta putting green, which was encircled by thousands of fans chanting his name. At 43, he became the second-oldest Masters winner behind Jack Nicklaus, who was 46 when he won in 1986.

Woods set a record for the longest period between Masters wins. It had been 14 years since his last victory in 2005, beating the mark of 13 years held by Gary Player (1961-74).

"A big 'well done' from me to Tiger," Nicklaus tweeted after the win. "I am so happy for him and for the game of golf. This is just fantastic!!!"

Woods shot a 2-under-par 70, with three birdies on his final six holes, to overtake 54-hole leader Francesco Molinari -- who outdueled him in last year's British Open -- and edge Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka by one stroke.

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