Eleven years after lifting his last Major title, Tiger Woods has rocked the golfing world as only he can with a wondrous performance to win the Masters by a single stroke at Augusta National.
With a weight of expectation on his shoulders going into the final round just two shots behind Francesco Molinari’s lead, Woods drew on the electric energy of the crowd to power home to victory with a two-under par 70 and a 13-under winning total.
With the best players in the world vying for the title, Woods refused to relent and his stretch of holes between 12 and 16 proved significant as he birdied 13, birdied 15 and almost holed out for an ace at the iconic par-3 16th before tapping in for another birdie while those around him faltered under Tiger’s name atop the board.
As it so often does at Augusta, the relatively diminutive par-3 12th played a pivotal role in deciding the fate of the green jacket. First it was Brooks Koepka who came up short and took a dip in the drink; then it was Ian Poulter; perhaps most surprisingly Molinari soon followed, succumbing to the swirling breeze while Tony Finau, playing alongside Woods and the Italian, was the fourth man to fall to the 150-yard hurdle. With the quartet all taking double-bogey fives, the phenomenally composed Woods, in his familiar Sunday red, only grew in stature from then on in.
To Koepka’s credit, he bounced back from the double at 12 with an eagle at the gettable par-5 13th but having got to 12-under par playing the last, his 10-foot putt for birdie was the last line of defence in preventing a Woods fairy-tale. When the bulky American missed left and Tiger parred 17, it left Woods with two shots in hand playing 18.
As it turns out, the great man needed the cushion with his stinger off the 18th tee bringing the trees into play for his approach from the fairway. Woods came up well short but knowing he had shots to play with, Tiger pitched sensibly beyond the pin to leave himself two putts to return to his natural habitat of a Major championship winner’s enclosure, and for a fifth time, to the Butler Cabin.
Woods thought he’d managed to do it in one but when his par putt dodged the hole, it only delayed the inevitable. Woods tapped in for an emotional victory, a victory the golfing world craved and a victory only one man will ever be capable of delivering. Tiger’s back!