Tiger Woods completed an epic “full circle” comeback from career-threatening injury and scandal by winning the 83rd Masters on Sunday, capturing his 15th major title with an unprecedented back-nine rally.
Ending an 11-year major drought, the 43-year-old American superstar — who underwent spinal fusion surgery in 2017 due to chronic back pain — seized his first major title since the 2008 US Open.
“It’s overwhelming just because of what has transpired,” Woods said. “I could barely walk. Couldn’t sleep. Couldn’t walk. Couldn’t do anything.
“To have the opportunity to come back, it’s one of the biggest wins I’ve ever had for sure.”
Winning a fifth Masters title, and his first since 2005, cemented a fairytale comeback to the pinnacle of golf for Woods, whose career imploded after a 2009 sex scandal and nagging knee and back injuries.
“It’s overwhelming just because of what has transpired,” Wood said. “I was just lucky to be playing again.”
With fans chanting his name, an emotional Woods walked off the 18th green and hugged his mother Kultida, daughter Sam and son Charlie just as he had embraced his late father Earl there after his first major victory at the 1997 Masters.
“It has come full circle,” Woods said. “This tournament has meant so much to me and to have everyone here means so much to me and my family.
“Now to be the champion — 22 years between wins is a long time — it’s unreal for me to experience this. I just couldn’t be more happy, more excited. I’m just kind of at a loss for words.”
Racing to finish before an oncoming thunderstorm, players created their own electric atmosphere, spectators roaring repeatedly for sensational shotmaking on one of golf’s iconic stages.
Woods fired a final-round two-under par 70 to finish on 13-under 275 for a one-shot victory to capture a $2.07 million (1.82 million euros) top prize and the green jacket symbolizing Masters supremacy.
“We couldn’t be happier,” Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley told Woods. “You’ve made history once again at Augusta National.”
An all-American trio of three-time major winner Brooks Koepka, world number two Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele shared second on 276.
“I don’t know if there are words — I’m sure he’s ecstatic about it,” Koepka said. “To have the injuries and come back and do what he has done, it has been tremendous to watch.”
AFP reports that it was the fifth Masters title for Woods, his first since 2005, and it moved him three shy of the all-time record 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus.