Jordan and Woods forged a friendship through their shared experiences as two of the most famous athletes in the world, although the relationship has been strained in recent years. However, in an interview with the Athletic published on Thursday, Jordan hailed Woods’s victory at the Masters last weekend.
“I never thought he’d get back physically,” Jordan told the Athletic after Woods won his first major since 2008. “He didn’t think he’d get back physically. But he did it. No one expected him to be back the way he is now. He’s probably the only person who believed he could get back. To me, that’s a major accomplishment. To me, it’s unbelievable. Mentally, you always think you can. But you can’t answer to what your body has to deal with. ... To me, it was the greatest comeback I’ve ever seen.”
“I took two years off to play baseball, but nothing like that,” said Jordan, who returned to the NBA in 1996 to win three more titles with the Chicago Bulls. “I’m pretty sure he questioned himself, whether he could get it back, and he had to put a lot of work in. But he took it head-on. He had to change his game; he had to change his perspective a little bit. Dealing with his emotions, obviously he believed in himself. But until you put that into action, sometimes it’s a struggle. I think he’s gotten over the hump. I think he’s going to win more. It’s tough mentally. It’s absolutely tough mentally. And then you think about the physical. I’m elated.”
Woods is now 43 but Jordan, who played until he was 40, believes others on the PGA Tour have plenty to fear. “They got problems,” Jordan said. “His confidence is only going to build from here. The unknown is the biggest thing. You don’t know what Tiger’s capable of doing. He’s won a tour event [the Tour Championship]. He’s won the Masters. He’s won a major.”
Woods now has 15 majors, three behind Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18.