Of course, there’s only one story in golf today. Tiger Woods broke through and captured his 15th Major at Augusta National on Sunday. It was fantastic and will likely be remembered as one of the greatest accomplishments in sports history. Tiger Woods winning his 5th Green Jacket brought cheers and tears, hope and inspiration, to millions. It was one of the most magical days ever at a place that has been producing its share of magic for decades.
It was incredible to watch the visceral release of emotion as Woods raised his arms in celebration after completing one of the most talked about and analyzed comeback journies in the history of sports. The genuine joy combined with the relief of finally reaching a mountain summit that even he had once admitted he likely would never see again was special.
The usually conservative Augusta patrons launched into a chant of “Tiger! Tiger! Tiger” and it felt amazingly appropriate. There are times to show decorum and there are times to let loose and rejoice even if you are standing in one of golf’s most holy of places. The contrast to last year’s tepid recognition of Patrick Reed as champion was beyond remarkable. Reed received the minimum required respect. Woods was shown love. He deserved it.
The emotions continued behind the 18th green with hugs with family and friends. The core people in Woods’ life that knew the true cost of the war that Woods had been through were not there just to celebrate but to share in a victory they had all played their own role in winning.
Then, there was the dozen or so fellow competitors that were waiting for Woods outside of the scorer’s room. All with smiles and sincere congratulations because they too had seen from the inside what it had taken for Woods to be there in that moment. A moment so powerful that even men who had only just minutes before lost their fight to win their own Green Jacket, a life-changing event, could only smile at having been there to see history.
Golf has changed, again, because of Tiger Woods.
Then came the stream of reporters and commentators having to admit that they had written Tiger Woods off. Count me, in my own way, among them. It’s always a bit awkward to watch anyone come to terms with having been so wrong in a profession that pays them to be so right. Tiger Woods had proven us wrong but the crow was delicious and we all ate it with relish.
So many of the initial reactions immediately after the final putt fell seemed to be, “I can’t believe it! He actually did it!” It took Tiger Woods himself to bring the day into focus. During his rounds with the press, he pointed out that this day was not as big of a surprise to himself as it seemed to so many others. He had already contended well in last year’s Open Championship and PGA Championship. He had won in Atlanta against a field of the game’s best players. He even had contented well just a few weeks ago at the WGC Dell Match Play. He knew he was close and truly believed that this tournament was within his grasp when he started play on Thursday. To get the win was indeed wonderful and gratifying, but it was there for him to take. He was humble. He admitted there had been any number of scenarios in play down the stretch on Sunday that could have taken this win away from him. He was grateful that he had come out on top but didn’t want this to be seen as some sort of unexpected miracle. He had done the work and at least on this Sunday in Augusta, it had been enough.
Welcome back, all the way back, Tiger Woods.