Tiger Woods’ comeback and other unforgettable Masters moments

In a special life, when the one factor Tiger Woods was attempting to ace was highschool algebra, I used to be requested to cowl the Masters for the primary time. And but it has at all times felt like I began masking golf’s signature occasion in 1997, when a 21-year-old Woods grabbed the whole sport by the throat.

He famously shot 40 on his opening 9 holes of that event earlier than enjoying the following 9 in 30 then destroying the sector in document trend. This was the daybreak of a staggering new period within the sport, as Woods would show {that a} golfer — of all issues and of all folks — might stand among the many three or 4 most recognizable figures on the planet.

My need to cowl the Masters going ahead was actually tethered to my need to cowl Woods’ makes an attempt to maintain successful it. It’s been a hell of a trip for him at Augusta Nationwide — together with 5 indelible triumphs, just a few heartbreaking defeats, one inappropriate scolding from the membership chairman over his infidelity and one comeback from career-threatening again accidents to finish all Masters comebacks.

That was in 2019, after a Hail Mary of a spinal-fusion surgical procedure pulled him from the brink of early retirement and restored him as a champ. Three years later, Woods appears poised to try one more comeback that would high all of them. If he makes it to the primary tee Thursday — not even 14 months after he crashed his SUV south of Los Angeles and almost misplaced his proper leg — that may make for what outdated newspaper writers used to name good copy. Actually good copy.

In the meantime, on the verge of masking the event for a twenty second time, I supply up an inventory of essentially the most compelling Masters moments I’ve witnessed, with a sure terminator in Sunday crimson dominating my reminiscence financial institution as a lot as he dominated the sector.


This was the primary and solely time I scored a Masters ticket, which I gave to my huge brother — it turned out to be our final journey collectively earlier than his loss of life, elevating it to my private No. 1 on the all-time record of sporting occasions I’ve coated over 36 years. Safety guards at Augusta Nationwide by no means minimize anybody a break from the membership’s draconian guidelines, however for some purpose one allowed us to crouch down in an off-limits space close to the sixteenth inexperienced Sunday to look at Woods end off the largest birdie of his fifth and most dramatic victory. “You’ve by no means been to a significant golf championship earlier than,” I instructed my brother Dan as we hustled to the seventeenth. “And right here you might be witnessing the best Masters of all time.”


Colin Montgomerie made the deadly mistake of difficult Woods on the eve of their third-round pairing, suggesting that younger Tiger may need problem dealing with the strain of holding a significant championship lead on the weekend for the primary time. Monty had no concept that Woods liked nothing greater than changing actual or imagined slights into jet gasoline. Tiger went on the market Saturday and simply buried the Scotsman, outplayed him by 9 strokes. I’ll always remember Monty trying like such a crushed man over the ultimate couple of holes. “We’re all human beings right here,” he mentioned afterward, “and there’s no probability humanly doable that Tiger Woods goes to lose this event.” Woods received by a dozen pictures.


At age 58, needing hip substitute surgical procedure, Jack Nicklaus tore up the entrance 9 on Sunday and put himself in place to win his seventh inexperienced jacket. That’s in all probability essentially the most enjoyable two hours I’ve ever spent on a golf course. Defending champ Woods, enjoying immediately in entrance of his idol, was diminished to an awestruck spectator all day, and simply tried to get out of Jack’s method. Nicklaus couldn’t make the back-nine putts he made in 1986 and completed 4 strokes behind winner Mark O’Meara. However Jack did beat Tiger, who was 36 years youthful, by two treasured pictures.


At 33, Phil Mickelson lastly broke by and received a significant within the Tiger Period with that endlessly downhill putt on 18 that fell by the left aspect door. Exhausting to imagine that Lefty talked himself out of the 2022 area, but when nothing else, the reminiscences of his three Masters victories — particularly his first one — can’t be taken away from him.


After failing to shut the 12 months earlier than, Jordan Spieth introduced Augusta Nationwide to its knees on the similar age (21) as Tiger was in 1997, tying Woods’ event document of 18-under. Spieth’s father Shawn gave his son a pregame pep discuss/warning concerning the final-round adversity he was more likely to face — identical to Earl Woods had performed 18 years earlier — and Jordan by no means flinched.


Spieth held a five-shot lead with 9 holes to go, and I used to be by no means extra sure of a winner in my life … earlier than I used to be by no means extra shocked by a collapse in my life. Spieth was referred to as a mentally powerful competitor, so his quadruple on the twelfth had Shakespearean tragedy written throughout it. I’ll always remember him strolling to Danny Willett’s championship ceremony together with his head down and his arms stuffed in his pockets. Spieth was sporting the inexperienced jacket he’d received the earlier April, however he regarded like a misplaced little boy who simply had his bicycle stolen.

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