Nigeria's foremost Online Energy News Platform

All Hail The Woods’ Remarkable Come Back

-Compiled by Saidu Abubakar-

During his decade in the wilderness, Tiger Woods appeared to give up on golf several times.
“There’s nothing I can look forward to, nothing I can build towards,” Mr. Woods said as his back problems worsened in 2015.

At the annual Masters champions dinner a couple of years ago, he apparently told colleagues, “I’m done. I won’t play golf again.”

Perhaps the most recognizable athlete of this century, Mr. Woods, 43, had become more famous for projecting misery than anything he’d won. It was getting hard to remember when he’d last looked happy. Until Sunday, 14th April 2019.

In what may be the most unlikely career arc in sports history, Mr. Woods won golf’s most prestigious event, the Masters, for the fifth time. It had been 14 years since he’d last won in Augusta, Ga. It’s been 11 years since he’d taken one of golf’s major tournaments.

When former champion Patrick Reed put the winner’s traditional green jacket on him, Mr. Woods burst out with, “Fits!”

Like the many millions of us who’d been watching, he also seemed surprised by how the day was ending.

Some at-risk pro athletes ride roller coasters. Mr. Woods has spent many years on a burrowing machine.

Since last winning a major, his personal life imploded. His back began to disintegrate. He entered rehab for addiction to prescription painkillers. He had surgeries, plural. What he didn’t do a whole lot of was golf.

In middle age, Mr. Woods had become a human branding exercise – not good enough to compete with the best, but still too successful a product salesman to give up.

On that Sunday we saw flashes of the old Mr. Woods, but one leavened by age. The fist pumps are fewer; the smiles rarer; the highlight moments less awesome.

This was Mr. Woods playing the Masters like an old gunfighter, knowing other men would begin drawing too quickly and accidentally shooting themselves as it went on.

Owing to incoming bad weather at Augusta National golf course, organizers kicked off the final round unconscionably early. Mr. Woods got the last tee time, 9:20 a.m. That still meant he had to be in the gym at 5, warming up his back.

If you were up for the prelims, you got a small taste of the tone in the early going. CBS announcer Jim Nantz did a softball retrospective with analyst and former Masters champ Nick Faldo. Mr. Nantz is no Barbara Walters, but he got Mr. Faldo tripping down memory lane and Mr. Faldo began to weep.

“You really wanted to do that to me,” Mr. Faldo said, laugh-crying. “You’re rotten.”
It was early and wet. People were tired and emotional. You could already tell this would be a slog.

At the start, Mr. Woods trailed Italian Francesco Molinari – a man as emotionally flat as a carp – by two shots.

The lead group “plodded” forward – that was Mr. Woods’s word – hovering at par. Others began to come up behind them. At points, a dozen were within close range of the lead.

Mr. Woods didn’t win the race at the 12th hole, but just about everyone else lost. Four of six golfers in the two leading groups found the creek. All four double-bogeyed.

Mr. Woods stroked one in to safety, and that was it. He knew it, but showed nothing. The cocky, care-free kid we remember is dead. There’s a beaten-up, but apparently not beaten-down, man in his place.

Mr. Woods took the sole lead at the 15th. At the par-three 16, he feathered one off the tee to within inches of the hole. That’s when the crowd bought in. From that point on, it was a parade. He won the Masters by a single shot. There was the usual skyward howling and embraces. What was unusual was the reaction of the crowd. The mob around the 18th green was frothing, chanting, close to hysteria.

Augusta National is in the United States, but not really part of it. It’s too urbane. But this was a very American moment – the big man brought low and then raised up again, reminding all the little people that, under the Stars and Stripes, that’s still possible.

It’s the Nathaniel Hawthorne quote: “Families are always rising and falling in America.” Few citizens of the republic have lived that line to greater extremes than Tiger Woods.

As he was still finishing off his day’s work, Mr. Woods was already being welcomed back at the front of the pack. All his opponents bent the knee without being asked.

Second-place finisher Dustin Johnson, after a meaningless question about atmosphere: “You can hear the roars. You can definitely tell the difference between a roar for me and a roar for Tiger.”

Another slim-margin almost-ran, Xander Schauffele, on the subject of his own remarkable weekend: “I feel like I’m getting the full Masters experience with Tiger in his red and the mock turtleneck.”

It felt less like your usual triumph and more like the Roman sort, in which a whole city came out to celebrate a conquering hero. Top finishers, former winners and Augusta National members lined the path to the Butler Cabin, just as desperate as fans to touch the great man. They didn’t used to do that when Mr. Woods was in ascendancy.

You realized this wasn’t nostalgia. It’s time travel. We’re in 1997 again. Get ready for Tiger Watch, Tigermania and a whole lot of tiger metaphors where they don’t belong.

At the jacket presentation, Mr. Nantz tried desperately to elicit tears. Mr. Woods thwarted him each time with, “I’m kind of at a loss for words.”

Mr. Woods must have known the sort of catharsis people wanted. Something like, ‘It was so terrible, but it was all worth it’. But he wouldn’t give it to them. He kept insisting on talking about the golf. Everyone still gushed like he was speaking poetry.

For as long as he can keep his body co-operative, Mr. Woods is back. Given the current thirst for stars, he may be bigger than ever.

And it’s possible this version of Mr. Woods is the perfect sporting hero for the age. Brilliant, compromised, fragile, a little bitter. A man who has been to the other side, and has come back determined never to return there.

Global Reactions
US President Donald Trump: “Congratulations to Tiger Woods, a truly Great Champion! Love people who are great under pressure. What a fantastic life comeback for a really great guy!”

Former US President Barack Obama: “Congratulations, Tiger! To come back and win the Masters after all the highs and lows is a testament to excellence, grit, and determination.

Twentythree-time Grand Slam winning tennis player Serena Williams: “I am literally in tears watching Tiger Woods 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.”

Three-time NBA champion Steph Curry: “Greatest comeback story in sports! Congrats Tiger Woods. Let me hold one of those 5 jackets one time!”

From The Golfing Fraternity:
Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington: “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 and all the news. It will be everywhere. There will be people who have never looked at golf and will be seeing this and wondering what it’s all about.”

Former Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger: “I never thought I’d see it. I thought he was done. He whispered to a champion at the Champions Dinner once that he was done. Since the fused back he has been a living, breathing, walking miracle. To perform at this level, it’s something you behold.”

BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter: “What an extraordinary story and what scenes at Augusta. The hug with his mother, his son is leaping into his arms, the chants of Tiger everywhere. It is all about this man who dominated golf. I have never seen him celebrate like that.”

Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson: “What a great moment for the game of golf. 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!”

Eighteen-time major winner Jack Nicklaus: “A big ‘well done’ from me to Tiger Woods! I am so happy for him and for the game of golf. This is just fantastic.”

…A timeline of Tiger Woods’ fall and rise
When Tiger Woods rolled in the winning putt at the Masters on that fateful Sunday, it was like reliving a bygone era.

It had been 11 years since the American great’s last major triumph and 14 since he previously claimed the famous green jacket at Augusta.

There was considerable doubt whether Woods would ever challenge at the highest level again, as he sought to overcome numerous setbacks in his life.

Tiger Woods lost over $100 million to his ex wife Elin Nordegren when she divorced him in 2010. At that time, many people thought he was finished. He lost his endorsement deals as a result of sex scandals, and had many problems that led to his career grinding to a halt. He lost everything and even had money issues. He took to drugs and alcohol and was arrested for driving offences, picked up when he had drugs in his system and actually quit Golf. To many of us, he was done and dusted. He was completely finished. It was Requiem!

But he found motivation along the line. Inch by inch, he decided to rebuild himself and his career for the sake of his mother, his children, and himself. Tiger kept fighting, and has now achieved one of the greatest comebacks in the history of Sports with his victory at the Masters this month. According to Forbes, he’s now worth about $800 million.

He was in his early thirties when his blossoming life started taking a downward spiral. After being the Number one in Golf, things got so bad that he even slipped out of the top 1000 in the World ranking. But he came back. At 43 years of age. He’s back at the top.

A resurgence in 2018 – which included challenges at The Open and US PGA Championship – raised hopes he could secure a 15th major.

That long-awaited success finally arrived. Here, we take a look at the timeline of Woods’ dramatic, albeit largely injury-inflicted, fall and rise to becoming a major champion again:

September 2013 – Woods was named PGA Tour Player of the Year after winning five titles in 2013. He ended the year as world number one.

March 2014 – Underwent surgery to treat a pinched nerve and missed that year’s Masters.

June 2014 – Returned to play the Quicken Loans National in June but missed the cut. He played The Open, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and US PGA Championship but struggled at all three and ended the year ranked 32nd.

February 2015 – After withdrawing from the Farmers Insurance Open, Woods announced an “indefinite break” due to poor form, He had recently shot an 11-over-par 82 at the Phoenix Open.

April 2015 – Returned to play the Masters and showed signs of promise – finishing tied-17th after going five under par for the tournament.

September 2015 – Having missed the cut at the U.S. Open and the Open Championship, the first time he had failed to make the weekend at back-to-back majors, Woods confirmed he had undergone a second major back surgery to correct a pinched nerve.

October 2015 – A month later, Woods underwent a follow-up procedure to his previous surgery to help relieve discomfort.

September 2016 – Woods filled the role of non-playing vice-captain in the United States’ Ryder Cup victory at Hazeltine.

December 2016 – After a 15-month absence, Woods finally made his comeback at the Hero World Challenge and placed 15th.

February 2017 – Having failed to make the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open a week previously, Woods withdrew from the Dubai Desert Classic on the European Tour ahead of the second round, with his agent citing back spasms.

April 2017 – Woods announced he would miss the Masters for a second year running, and later that month he underwent a fourth major surgery to help ease pain in his back and leg.

May 2017 – A humiliating mugshot of Woods was released after he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Woods quickly explained the incident was due to “an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications.” He later pleaded guilty to reckless driving at a Palm Beach County courthouse.

July 2017 – Woods’ inactivity led to him dropping out of world’s top 1,000.

December 2017 – Made his latest comeback at the Hero World Challenge and finished tied-ninth, before showing good form at the Valspar Championship and the Arnold Palmer Invitational early in 2018.

July 2018 – Finished three shots behind winner Francesco Molinari at The Open, having held the lead midway through the final round at Carnoustie.

August 2018 – Carded a 64 – his lowest final round in a major – on the last day of the US PGA Championship to claim second place, two shots behind winner Brooks Koepka.

September 2018 – Woods secured the Tour Championship at East Lake, his long-awaited victory coming after he was named by captain Jim Furyk as a wildcard pick for the US team to face Europe in the Ryder Cup at the end of the month.

April 2019 – Fourteen years after winning the Masters for a fourth time, Woods claimed a fifth green jacket and celebrated a 15th major victory, coming from behind to win such a title for the first time.

SOURCE: Agency Reports