Tiger Woods wins the 2019 Masters: How final round unfolded, what was said and the golfing world reaction

Telegraph Sport
The Telegraph
The New York Daily News, L'Equipe, and The Telegraph
The New York Daily News, L'Equipe, and The Telegraph

Tiger Woods is back. His triumph at The Masters on Sunday was lauded around the world as among "the greatest comebacks in the world".

The 43-year-old's remarkable fifth Masters title saw him resume his pursuit of the all-time majors record.

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Woods' 15th major title, secured by one shot at Augusta, came 11 years after his last, a period during which he has undergone multiple back surgeries and faced personal problems which had threatened to end his career.

Here's how the world reacted to his remarkable turnaround in fortunes.

How the final round unfolded

Woods held his nerve on a wonderfully chaotic final day at Augusta National to win his 15th major title, and a first in 11 years, in the 83rd Masters.

Amid a dizzying series of twists and turns, Woods carded a closing 70 to finish 13 under par, one shot ahead of Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka, the reigning US Open and US PGA champion.

Overnight leader Francesco Molinari was two clear with seven to play but dumped his tee shot on the 12th into Rae's Creek and also double-bogeyed the 15th, the Open champion having to settle for a tie for fifth with Tony Finau, Webb Simpson and Jason Day.

It is the first time Woods has won a major when trailing after 54 holes and comes 3,954 days since he beat Rocco Mediate in a play-off for the 2008 US Open, despite a double stress fracture and knee injury which prompted season-ending surgery.

<span>Woods celebrates his victory&nbsp;</span> <span>Credit: Getty Images </span>
Woods celebrates his victory  Credit: Getty Images

And it is just two years since he told Jack Nicklaus "I'm done" during the Champions Dinner at Augusta National, after which he flew straight to London to see the consultant who recommended he undergo what proved to be career-saving spinal fusion surgery.

With thunderstorms forecast to hit the course in mid-afternoon, tournament officials took the unprecedented decision to move the tee times forward by several hours, with players sent out in groups of three from both the first and 10th tees.

Molinari began the day with a two-shot lead over Woods and Finau and found himself three clear after six straight pars, but Woods closed the gap to a single shot with the aid of back-to-back birdies to set up a thrilling finale.

Woods had ridden his luck at times in his third round of 67 and finally paid the price for a wild drive on the 10th, the resulting bogey dropping him two behind Molinari, who saved par superbly after pulling his approach left of the green.

However, the wind was playing havoc on the daunting par-three 12th and Molinari, Koepka, Ian Poulter and Finau all dumped their tee shots into the water guarding the front of the green.

<span>Woods took advantage of&nbsp;Francesco Molinari (R) capitulating on the back nine</span> <span>Credit: REUTERS </span>
Woods took advantage of Francesco Molinari (R) capitulating on the back nine Credit: REUTERS

Sensing his opportunity, Woods played safely away from the pin and a somewhat nervy par, after leaving his birdie attempt five feet short, gave him a tie for the lead as Molinari could not get up and down following a penalty drop.

An amazing day then took another twist as Patrick Cantlay, who only made the halfway cut with a shot to spare, followed his third round of 64 with five birdies and an eagle on the 15th to briefly claim the lead, only to bogey the next two holes.

Birdies from Johnson and Koepka made it a five-way tie before Molinari's mishap on the 15th, where Woods two-putted from long range for birdie to take the outright lead for the first time.

Woods was then inches away from the third hole-in-one of the day on the 16th and tapped in for birdie to double his lead, allowing him the luxury of a bogey on the last before the exuberant celebrations could begin as chants of 'Tiger, Tiger' reverberated around the 18th green.

"That will be the greatest scene in golf forvever," said six-time major winner Nick Faldo, commentating for CBS. "We will never see anything as exhilarating as that."

How the golf world reacted

Xander Schauffele ended up being beaten by Woods, but the player couldn't help being pleased for champion.

Playing in only his second Masters, Schauffele  was alone atop the leaderboard for a brief moment during the late stages of the final round on Sunday.

Schauffele, who was playing two groups ahead of Woods, ended up one shot back of the five-times champion and when asked about the experience at Augusta National was anything but bitter.

"Like a dream, honestly," said the 25-year-old Schauffele. "It's what I watched as a kid. It's what I watched growing up. Just everything about it, and for me to be a part of it and give it a good run ... it was an incredible experience today.

"It's hard to really feel bad about how I played, just because I just witnessed history. It was really cool coming down the stretch, all the historic holes, Amen Corner, 15, 16, Tiger making the roars."

<span>Xander Schauffele of the U.S. looks at the pin on the 18th green</span> <span>Credit: Reuters </span>
Xander Schauffele of the U.S. looks at the pin on the 18th green Credit: Reuters

Eighteen-time major winner Jack Nicklaus said Woods had him "shaking in his boots". While Woods had himself suggested he would never again contend for a major, Nicklaus said he always expected Woods to come back.

"I felt for a long time he was going to win again," Nicklaus told The Golf Channel. "And, you know, the next two majors are at Bethpage, where he's won (2002 US Open), and Pebble Beach, where he's won (2000 US Open). So, you know, he's got me shaking in my boots, guys."

Woods' great rival and Ryder Cup team-mate Phil Mickelson also congratulated him, cheekily suggesting a rematch of the US dollar nine million challenge match they played last November - which Mickelson won.

"What a great moment for the game of golf," Mickelson wrote. "I'm so impressed by Tiger Woods' incredible performance, and I'm so happy for him to capture another Green Jacket.

"Truly a special day that will go down in history. Congratulations, Tiger! £rematch"

Woods' former coach Butch Harmon said "he had never seen him show emotion like that". 

"He was humbled by his own mistakes, the things he went through he created, nobody else created them, and he came out the other side," he told Sky Sports.

"He got himself help, he got his body right, he got his head right and he went to work on his game. I couldn't be happier for him and his family."

Six-time major winner Nick Faldo was commentating on CBS in the United States, and said: "That will be the greatest scene in golf forever. We will never see anything as exhilarating as that."

<span>Masters champion Tiger Woods receives his Green Jacket from Nick Faldo in 1997</span> <span>Credit: AP </span>
Masters champion Tiger Woods receives his Green Jacket from Nick Faldo in 1997 Credit: AP

Padraig Harrington, a three-time major winner, said on BBC Sport: "There is not a golfer in the world that isn't happy that Tiger Woods won. In the modern era he's been a golf and sport superstar.

"This comeback story will break out from golf into all sports, the news. It will be everywhere.

"There will be people who have never looked at golf and will be seeing this tomorrow and wondering what it's all about."

How world of sport reacted

It wasn't just current and former golfers who were delighted for Woods.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who won a record sixth Super Bowl this past February, joked that he was plotting how to match the number of major golf championships Woods has now accumulated .

"Running the numbers on how long it'll take me to get to 15..."

Brady explained his non-stop tweeting, saying the final round of the Masters was his only "couch day of the year."

In the NBA, LeBron James said he was "inspired" by the win.

Golden State's Stephen Curry called it the "greatest comeback story in sports."

Even Serena Williams took a break from partying at tennis player Caroline Wozniacki's bachelorette party in the Bahamas to congratulate Woods .

"I am literally in tears watching @TigerWoods this is Greatness like no other. Knowing all you have been through physically to come back and do what you just did today? Wow Congrats a million times! I am so inspired thank you buddy."

Magic Johnson congratulated the golfer, saying the "roar of the Tiger is back". 

Presidents hail comeback

Donald Trump, who's visited his branded golf courses more 150 times since taking office, watched Woods cruise toward victory from his course in Virginia.

"Watching final hole of @TheMasters. @TigerWoods is looking GREAT!"

A moment later, after Woods' final putt dropped on 18, the US president added from the presidential limousine : "Love people who are great under pressure. What a fantastic life comeback for a really great guy!"

His predecessor, Barack Obama, also congratulated Woods. 

"To come back and win the Masters after all the highs and lows is a testament to excellence, grit, and determination," he said.

How media reported triumph

Britain

In the UK, the triumph of Woods covered the front pages as well as the back. 

Daily Telegraph

The Telegraph's Paul Hayward said the feat transcended sport. "Not many of us get to make points about family life by seizing the Masters, 14 years after we last won it," he wrote. "But the greatest victories - certainly the best comebacks - are the ones everyone feels they can take something from. They speak beyond sport, to life, how it turns against us, and how sometimes we can turn it back in our favour. In that spirit, Tiger Woods winning the Masters again was a universal turnaround."

<span>Telegraph Sport</span>
Telegraph Sport

Guardian

The Guardian also ran it prominently on the front and back pages, calling the comeback the "Return of the King".

Times

The Times called it "A Walking Miracle". 

The Scotsman

North of the border, The Scotsman called it "the ultimate sporting comeback".

Independent

The Independent declared it the "return of a master".

United States

Across the pond in the Big Apple, the New York Daily News called Woods the "Grand Master'. 

USA Today called it the "stuff of legends" as it declared "Triumph of Tiger".

In the New York Times, Bill Pennington said it was "among the greatest comebacks in sports history". The writer pointed to one moment in particular that showed the Woods of old was back.

"Woods walked over the Hogan bridge and stood defiantly on the 12th green glaring back at Finau and Molinari as they dejectedly stood on the other side of the water, rummaging through their bags for another ball and club to once again try to traverse the creek," he wrote.

"Woods was in their line of sight, standing with his arms crossed or one hand on his hip. He continued to stare in their direction with an expression that seemed to say: 'Can you hurry up? I’ve got a tournament to win'."

"Tiger roars to Masters victory," the Miami Herald reported on its front page. 

<span>Miami Herald</span>
Miami Herald

Ireland

The Irish papers also heaped praise on Woods on the front pages.

The Irish Times said Woods was "the master again".

<span>The Irish Times</span>
The Irish Times

The Irish Independent showed a celebrating Woods on the front page while the Irish Examiner said: "It still fits." 

<span>Irish Independent</span>
Irish Independent
<span>Irish Examiner</span>
Irish Examiner

France

L'Equipe used just one word to describe Woods on its front page: "Giant."

<span>L'Equipe</span>
L'Equipe

What Woods said afterwards

"It's unreal for me to experience this. I couldn't be more happy and excited, I'm kind of at a loss for words.

"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.

"My little boy Charlie, that embrace is just special. Sam lost a State soccer tournament yesterday so I convinced her to come up and watch the Masters and luckily I was able to win.

"They were there last year at the Open Championship when I had the lead on that back nine and I made a few mistakes, cost myself a chance to win The Open title.

"I wasn't going to let that happen to them twice so for them to see what it's like to have their dad win a major championship, I hope that's something they will never forget.

"Prior to my comeback they only knew that golf caused me a lot of pain. If I tried to swing a club I would be on the ground and I struggled for years, and that's basically all they remember."

The Woods win in numbers

Woods' victory secures him a first major title since the 2008 US Open in the 83rd Masters at Augusta National. Here are the numbers behind his remarkable comeback. 

3,954 - days since victory over Rocco Mediate in a US Open play-off at Torrey Pines.

81 - the victory is Woods' 81st on the PGA Tour.

4 - number of back operations since March 2014.

1,199 - Woods' ranking in the world in November 2017. Victory at Augusta National means he will be sixth in Monday's updated standings.

14 - years between Woods' fourth and fifth victories in the Masters.

<span>Woods is given the green jacket back in 1997 after winning his first Masters&nbsp;</span> <span>Credit: AFP </span>
Woods is given the green jacket back in 1997 after winning his first Masters  Credit: AFP

15 - career major wins, second only to Jack Nicklaus' 18.

683 - weeks he has spent at world number one during his career, a record.

281 - consecutive weeks spent as the world's best golfer, which is also a record.

1997 - the year of his first major triumph, at the Masters.

5 - Woods is one of five players to have won all four major titles.

48 - His score for nine holes at the age of three on the Navy golf course in Los Alamitos.

1 - Woods is the only player to hold all four major titles at the same time, winning the US Open, Open Championship and US PGA in 2000 and the 2001 Masters.

What's next for Woods?

The main target will be winning the four majors required to break Nicklaus' record of 18. Woods will also have designs on reclaiming the world No 1 spot. 

He will likely arrange his schedule for the rest of the year to try and ensure he is peaking for the majors. This year's remaining majors are:

  • USPGA Championship. Bethpage Black. New York, USA. 16-19 May 2019

  • U.S. Open. Pebble Beach Golf Links. California, USA. 13-16 June 2019

  • The Open. Royal Portrush. Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland. 19-22 July 2019

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