Opinion: Tiger Woods’ 2019 Masters victory eclipses his first in 1997
AUGUSTA, Ga. – It’s a natural question to ask: What was more momentous, Tiger Woods’ first major victory at the 1997 Masters, or his latest at the 2019 Masters?
Were it not for the first, he certainly would have had a different path to the last, of course, but I believe Sunday’s victory, a sports comeback for the ages, will end up being more memorable because it was so improbable and so long in the making.
It’s one thing for a 21-year-old prodigy to burst onto the scene with a 12-stroke victory at a course that was made for him. As spectacular as that was, that’s usually the way sports work.
It’s another thing entirely for a 43-year-old who has endured personal scandal and four surgeries on his back, including spinal fusion two years ago, to end a nearly 11-year major championship drought by taking on and beating all challengers on the course he first conquered 22 years ago.
Tiger Woods celebrates with the green jacket after winning the 2019 Masters. (Photo: Michael Madrid, USA TODAY Sports)
It was less than two years ago that Woods was metaphorically left for dead after his DUI arrest and alarming mug shot. It was only a year and a half ago that he said he couldn’t get off the couch to watch his kids play soccer and wasn’t sure he would ever be able to walk normally again, much less play golf.
And then he gets better, comes close in the last two majors of 2018 and goes out and wins the 2019 Masters?
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“Yeah, just unreal, to be honest with you,” Woods said Sunday afternoon when it was over and he had held on for a one-stroke lead over a trio of younger players.
“There were so many different scenarios that could have transpired on that back nine. There were so many guys that had a chance to win. You couldn’t have had more drama than we all had out there, and now I know why I’m balding.”
For a generation of young sports fans, Woods’ major triumphs were something they only heard about from their parents. They were not real in that “I can remember where I was when it happened” sense.
That changed Sunday. Woods’ victory is one of the great unexpected sports stories of all time. As good as 1997 was, this was better.
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