Controversial professional golfer Tiger Woods won his first major championship in 11 years over the weekend.
After enduring debilitating injuries, painful lessons from his multiple affairs, and an emotional divorce from Swedish model Elin Nordegren, Tiger Woods won his fifth victory at the Augusta National in Georgia on April 14.
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) April 15, 2019
The champion released a scream from the bottom of his lungs to celebrate the epic victory—and a symbolic end to years of setbacks.
“Overwhelming,” Woods told the Associated Press when he made the critical putt for his one-stroke victory at the Masters. “That confirmed I could still win out here against the best players.”
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) April 15, 2019
For Woods, the victory was the result of his long road to recovery. It stands in stark contrast to his last major championship, a playoff victory in the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in California. There, he hobbled on the golf course, having just come out of major reconstructive surgery on his left knee.
He also injured himself when he crashed his sports utility vehicle into a tree and fire hydrant outside his Florida home during the Thanksgiving holiday in 2009. This led to a spate of surgical procedures the following year that left Woods’ back so painful he struggled to walk, sleep, and even play with his children.
A few weeks before Christmas in 2015 his health deteriorated so badly that he faced the prospect of never being able to play golf again, not even recreationally. He also faced a series of allegations that he had multiple extramarital affairs, which tarnished his image as a dedicated athlete and perfect family man.
Overnight, one of the world’s most famous people was now the topic of ridicule. His wife and most of his major sponsors all abandoned him.
In a last bid to restore his health, Woods underwent a fourth round of surgery on his back in April 2017. Six weeks later he was arrested—asleep behind the wheel of his running car—for driving under the influence in the middle of the night.
Woods said his drowsiness was due to a bad combination of pain medication. He pleaded guilty to reckless driving and entered a diversion program.
“So where is the light at the end of the tunnel?” he wondered out loud. “I don’t know.”
“In all my years of covering sports, I have never seen an athlete fall so far as Tiger Woods did and rise all the way back to the very top of his sport. … It was just less than two years ago that sad mugshot [was released] as he got arrested for his DUI.” — @RealSkipBayless pic.twitter.com/fAAryWgM67
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) April 15, 2019
When it seemed all hope was lost, Woods discovered the fusion on his back returning remarkable results. His swing became stronger and increasingly like the Tiger he once was. Even though he feared the back pain would return, he kept practising his swing.
Woods eventually returned to the golf course, physically and mentally fit. He contended at the last two majors of 2018, claiming a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team and winning the season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake. This would be Tiger’s first sign of victory in over five years.
“That gave me a lot of confidence going into this year,” he said. “I wanted to keep building on it. I wanted to get my mind and body peaking for Augusta.”
When Woods won his 15th major title on April 14, it marked a massive change for the man—that life is falling back into place.
“Ahh, it fits,” he said as he slipped into the green championship jacket for the first time since 2005. “This jacket sure is comfortable.”
Woods thanked his family, friends, and fans for their continued support.
“Having my family by my side today is something I will never forget,” he said in a Twitter post dated April 14. “To not only be able to play again but to be able to win again, is something I will forever be grateful for.”
I can’t thank my family, friends and fans enough for their support. Having my family by my side today is something I will never forget. To not only be able to play again, but to be able to win again, is something I will forever be grateful for. This jacket sure is comfortable. pic.twitter.com/LsOUX2dWH1
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) April 14, 2019
Woods won despite Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne criticizing him for having a lack of morality and setting a poor example for America’s youth.
Those words stood in contrast to the warm greeting he later received in the interview room from green-jacketed moderator, Craig Heatley.
“Welcome back, Tiger. Or more appropriately, welcome home,” Heatley said.
President Donald Trump confirmed he had spoken with Woods on April 15 and congratulated the golfer on winning the championship.
“Spoke to Tiger Woods to congratulate him on the great victory he had in yesterday’s Masters and to inform him that because of his incredible Success and Comeback in Sports (Golf) and, more importantly, LIFE, I will be presenting him with the PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM!” Trump said in a Twitter post dated April 15.
Spoke to @TigerWoods to congratulate him on the great victory he had in yesterday’s @TheMasters, & to inform him that because of his incredible Success & Comeback in Sports (Golf) and, more importantly, LIFE, I will be presenting him with the PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 15, 2019
President Trump said that he’ll award golfer Tiger Woods with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, after Woods won his fifth Masters title over the weekend https://t.co/geeqxnZIel pic.twitter.com/Nx1bbyr4Ti
— CNN (@CNN) April 16, 2019