When Tiger Woods was drugged and sedated, sitting on the side of the road in his car, unable to communicate effectively with Jupiter police, it was the perfect, heart-wrenching Hollywood ending to a miserably tragic tale for one of America’s most iconic and culturally transformative sports figures.
It was one scene in Tiger Woods’ movie, filled with the unimaginable highs of his golf career and the downward spiral his life took after his Dad Earl passed. By the time Tiger was found unconscious in his Benz, and then subsequently arrested, in May of 2017, he was four years removed from his last tour win and 12 years removed from his last Masters title.
We all would have left the movie theater feeling empty and disappointed if the last scene was King Tiger in a drug-induced state, struggling to figure out why police lights and flashlights had engulfed him.
Thankfully, that script was blown to pieces when Tiger won The Tour Championship in 2018.
The 2019 revamped production begins with Tiger’s lowest moment and ends with an improbable Masters Championship on Sunday at the age of 43.
15th Major win, 5th Masters win. Both 2nd of all time. 14 years after his last green jacket, and after 3 back surgeries over the last 5 years, Tiger Woods has won #TheMasters 📽 @TheMasters https://t.co/jPeaqrVVPS
It’s Tiger’s fifth green jacket and 81st pro tournament win, leaving him second to “The Golden Bear” Jack Nicklaus and one behind Sam Snead for the all-time record, respectively. Tiger’s 15th major championship win also leaves him only three behind Jack Nicklaus in career majors.
There was a time when golf’s greatest minds gave Tiger no shot to ever surpass Nicklaus. But after today, 20 majors seems very doable.
11 years, 8 operations, changed demeanor but same intensity, Tiger Woods transforms himself back into Tiger Woods. Greatest career comeback I’ve ever witnessed. Dont be surprised if he wins another major this year and eventually pass Jack Nicklaus. Long odds but possible.
The Masters tournament reflected Tiger’s life perfectly. He had some miraculous shots, hit some rough patches with his putting and shanked four bogeys, which really put his back against the wall. Yet despite all of the static, Tiger fought through and ended up on top of the leaderboard.
When he sank his final putt that secured the win, Woods threw up his hands and the Masters crowd broke all protocol and began a thunderous rendition of “Tiger, “Tiger.” He was getting love like an NFL QB leaving the field after winning his final Super Bowl. Tiger’s son ran into his arms and he embraced his mom and girlfriend while CBS Sports’ Jim Nance began to compare the display of emotion to the one he shared with his father on TV when he won at Augusta in 1997.
Tiger has said that it was extremely important for his kids to see him as a winner and its appears like he’s recaptured his legendary form just so their last memory of him wouldn’t be a fallen star caught in the erratic swings of fame and fortune.
If this doesn’t bring a tear to your eye you’re not human. In ’97 we saw Tiger hug his father after winning his 1st Masters. Today Tiger hugs his son Charlie after winning his 1st major in 11 years. There is nothing in sports like The Masters. #TigerWoods https://t.co/6Bn5ecIeQs
“The return to glory.” said Nance. “Wow.”
Back in his heyday, there were only a handful of golfers with the skill to compete with Woods. Two decades later, Tiger had to fend off at least eight elite golfers who were in contention to win the tournament when first tee popped off. They are all younger players, all aspiring to be the next Tiger Woods and all inspired by his past magnificence and “living a dream”, as golfer Tony Finau put it, by sharing the links with a legend.
With three holes left, after nearly Eagling, Tiger knocked down a short putt for birdie and took sole possession of the lead.
When he refused to crack a smile, waved to the adoring crowd while maintaining his classic scowl, you knew he wasn’t going to relinquish the lead.
“The impossible has become possible, ”said CBS play-by-play guy Bill Macatee, who was in shock.
Tiger smelled blood at that point. He proceeded to birdied the 16th and took a two shot lead that sent his golf club piercing through the hearts of anyone who ever doubted that he could ascend to the top of the golf world again.
It’s been a long time coming,” said analyst Nick Faldo. “14 major victories by 2008 and all those years wondering if he’d ever play again. Let alone compete in a major…let alone win. It’s a miracle”
Woods eclipsed Gary Player’s record of 13 years between majors (1961-1974). He’s living proof why mental and physical health is equally essential to achieve optimum performance in our lives and our careers. Hollywood couldn’t find a writer to concoct a script better than Tiger’s real life journey and not many folks would even believe Tiger’s redemption tour if it was in movie form.
Tiger’s life has been experienced more drama than a Mobb Deep track and at this point, with him standing at the pinnacle of the sport again, how could we call him anything but the greatest American sports figure in history.