Tiger Woods is officially back, and the only man who has won more major championships than him is happy to see it.
Jack Nicklaus, winner of 18 major championships and considered by many to be the greatest golfer of all time, was not at Augusta National on Sunday to watch Woods win the Masters. He did, however, send along a message to Tiger immediately after the 43-year-old captured his fifth green jacket.
“A big well done from me to Tiger. I am so happy for him and for the game of golf,” Nicklaus said, as read by Jim Nantz on the CBS broadcast. “This is just fantastic.”
Woods entered the final round two shots back of then-leader Francesco Molinari. The victory marked the first time in his career that he has come from behind in the final round to win a major.
While it will still be extremely difficult for Tiger to break Nicklaus’ record of 18 major wins, his performance at the Masters this year proves he is still capable of playing at an elite level. As long as he can remain healthy, there’s no reason Woods can’t win another major or two before his career is over.
Tiger Woods has accomplished just about everything during his Hall of Fame golf career, but he managed to do something he had never done before en route to winning his 15th major championship on Sunday.
Woods entered the final round at the Masters at 11-under, which was two shots back of then-leader Francesco Molinari. While it may be difficult to believe, Tiger had never come from behind on the final day of a major to win. In his previous 14 victories, four of which came at the Masters, Woods had the lead heading into the final round and never looked back.
Like most winners at Augusta National, Tiger got some help from other players at the top of the leaderboard who made crucial mistakes. That said, it is still remarkable that Sunday was the only time in his career he came from behind to win. What a way to capture your fifth green jacket.
Tiger Woods was married to ex-wife Elin Nordegren the last time he won a major back in 2008. Then his golf career was derailed after she discovered he was cheating on her. Nothing was a better symbol of how much his life has changed since then than the group there to support him as he attempted to win his first major since 2008 — and fifth Masters overall.
Woods’ mother, children Sam and Charlie, and girlfriend Erica Herman were all there supporting:
Tiger's family pic.twitter.com/vUdbKs1CrH
— CJ Fogler (@cjzer0) April 14, 2019
Sam was born in 2007 and didn’t know her dad as the major-winning machine. Charlie was born in 2009, after he had won his last major. And Herman was the symbol for his new life since his highly-publicized divorce.
Herman and Tiger have been public with their relationship since Oct. 2017. He has started to come around in his golf career — three back surgeries later — and is getting back on track.
Dustin Johnson knows that the fan support for Tiger Woods is different from anything else.
Johnson was among a group of players contending for the lead at the Masters on Sunday. After he completed his round, shooting a four-under 68 to finish 12 under, he talked about the experience. While Johnson said he had fun, he noted how much different the support for Tiger was than anyone else.
“It was a lot of fun today. You could hear the roars, and you can definitely tell the difference between a roar for me or a roar for Tiger (Woods). But I had a lot of fun out there today,” Johnson said in an interview with CBS’ Amanda Baliones.
Xander Schauffele also talked after he completed his round about the energy from the crowd.
“The crowds are incredible. I just sort of fed off the crowds. I was hearing roars from behind, which sort of pushed me forward,” Schauffele said.
The fans had been waiting a long time — since 2008 — to see Tiger win another major. You can understand why they were so fired up. He inspired a total mob scene with his Tour Championship win in Atlanta in September, so the fan support was not a surprise.
Tiger Woods turned back the clock with his performance on the back nine at the Masters on Sunday, and another athlete who understands the meaning of domination appeared to be taking it just as seriously as the 14-time major champion.
Woods hit one of his best shots of the day at the par-3 16th hole, leaving himself with a tap-in birdie to take a two-shot lead. He intensely stared down the shot while it was in the air, and Michael Phelps was shown standing behind him with an almost identical look on his face.
Michael Phelps is enjoying Tiger's final round at the Masters. pic.twitter.com/4VYBuNJA6K
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) April 14, 2019
Few people understand what Tiger is going through more than Phelps, so it’s no surprise he appeared to be enjoying the ride.
Woods got some help during the final round when other players at the top of the leaderboard went into meltdown mode, but all in all he turned in one of his best performances in a very long time.
Francesco Molinari held at least a portion of the lead for 14 holes during the final round of the Masters on Sunday, but things came unraveled for him in a hurry at the 15th hole.
After hitting an errant tee shot and then a layup shot that was nothing special, Molinari found himself in a desperate situation. Tiger Woods, who was one of several players tied with Molinari for the lead at 12-under at the time, had already hit his second shot on the green at the par-5. Molinari needed to get on in three, so he took a risk with some tree trouble. It did not work out, as it clipped a branch and went into a water hazard.
For the second time today, Francesco Molinari finds the water. pic.twitter.com/CN7NqTCz4x
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) April 14, 2019
Molinari then hit yet another poor shot after taking a drop, and he ended up with a double-bogey to fall to 10-under and essentially remove himself from contention. Woods made a birdie to get to 13-under.
Before he bogeyed the 15th, Molinari was one of several players who made a brutal mistake at the par-3 12th hole. Molinari played nearly mistake-free golf for much of the weekend, but the pressure of the back nine at Augusta may have gotten to him.
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The 12th hole at Augusta National has been a major issue for many golfers over the years, but that was especially true during the final round of the Masters on Sunday.
In the span of about 15 minutes, four players who were at or near the top of the leaderboard hit almost identical tee shots at the 12th. They all rolled down the bank in front of the green and into the water. Brooks Koepka and Ian Poulter did it first, and both were within striking distance of the lead at the time. Leader Francesco Molinari and Tony Finau — both playing in the final grouping with Tiger Woods — then did the same thing immediately after.
Molinari before water (-165)
Molinari after water (+175)
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) April 14, 2019
Molinari went into the 12th hole with a two-shot lead over Woods and three-shot lead over Finau. He ended up with a double-bogey, and Tiger made par to tie for the lead at 11-under.
If you want to know the type of havoc the 12th at Augusta can wreak, Jordan Spieth can tell you all about it. The trouble it gave golfers on Sunday left the green jacket completely up for grabs.