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Tiger Woods won the Masters at a rainy Augusta National on Sunday, completing what was arguably the greatest career comeback in the history of golf nearly 10 years after injuries and scandal derailed his game.
The golf legend walked up the 18th hole to the sound of roaring cheers to capture victory, a throwback to earlier years when he consistently dominated the most prestigious tournament in the sport. Woods shot a final round score of 70 to finish 13-under par. Sunday’s victory was his fifth green jacket since 1997 and his first since 2005.
“When I tapped the [final] putt in, I don’t know what I did, but I know I screamed,” Woods, 43, said in Butler Cabin after the round. “To have my kids there, it’s come full circle. My dad was here in ’97, and now I’m the dad with two kids there.”
Woods made history 22 years ago when he won his first Masters at age 21, the youngest champion ever. But until Sunday, he hadn’t won a major in more than 10 years, having last captured the U.S. Open in 2008. Woods’ 11-year drought between majors was tied for the longest drought ever.
His victory at Augusta gives him 15 career major titles, just three behind all-time leader Jack Nicklaus.
On Sunday, Woods played with remarkable consistency on the back nine, establishing himself as the leader as his competition began melting away. The threat of storms pushed up the start time, with the final group teeing off at 9:20 a.m. A solid front nine placed Wood in the hunt with half a dozen others, and a series of birdies on the back nine eventually put him out of reach.
On 16, a par 3, his tee shot rolled within two feet of the hole, sending the crowd into a frenzy. As he walked up the fairway to the green on 18, the crowd roared as onlookers anticipated what was to come. Woods needed only a 5 on the par-4 18th to win the tournament.
After narrowly missing a 15-foot putt on 18, he was left with a three-foot tap-in for the win. When the ball hit the cup, chants of “Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!” erupted as they had in years past.
“It’s overwhelming, just because of what’s transpired,” he recalled after the round. “It’s unreal for me to experience this.”
Woods’ victory came at the expense of Francesco Molinari, who had led going into Sunday and collapsed down the stretch. The Italian’s earlier two-shot lead evaporated on the par-3 No. 12 when his tee shot fell short and rolled into the water. He laid up and two-putted for a double bogey, but Woods parred to gain a share of the lead. Molinari’s troubles continued on the par-5 No. 15 — he again found the water and ended up with a double bogey. He finished at 11-under.
Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka all made late charges at the leaderboard. The three finished at 12-under par. Each player was done in by mistakes on the back nine. Koepka bogeyed No. 12, Schauffele could only par the last four holes and Johnson failed to record a birdie or eagle on the back nine. Patrick Cantlay eagled to briefly take the lead after 15 holes, but faded back with bogeys on No. 16 and No. 17.
Woods’ return to greatness came after nearly a decade on the outside of the golf world looking in. In 2009, Woods’ marriage fell apart over his infidelity, and he crashed his SUV after an early-morning argument with his then-wife. After their divorce in 2010, Woods underwent four back surgeries, leaving in doubt whether he would ever be able to even play again. He was arrested in 2017 after being found asleep in his car with its engine running at traffic light, eventually pleading guilty to reckless driving.
But on Sunday, Woods once again wore the green jacket. In the Butler Cabin, after last year’s champion Patrick Reed put the green jacket around his shoulders, Woods had a simple response.
“It fits,” he said with a smile.