Tiger Woods has completed one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history with a come-from-behind win at the Masters at Augusta National.
The deafening roars at Augusta were cathartic for fans who feared they would never see Woods win another major after years of career-threatening injuries and off-course scandals.
But on an overcast Sunday at Augusta, Woods sent the sporting wold into meltdown by claiming a fifth Masters green jacket and 15th major title.
Aged 43 and now the world No.6, Woods’ first major win in 11 years has him just three off Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18.
Woods was glad to be wearing Augusta’s green jacket over his trademark Sunday red shirt once again – 14 years after his epic 2005 Augusta triumph.
It will go down as a where-were-you moment.
“Well, I know where I was,” Woods joked in a winning press conference beamed to the world.
The one-shot win from Americans Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka marked two years since Woods underwent risky spinal fusion surgery which sidelined him for 10 months.
Woods reportedly said at the champions dinner at the 2017 Masters that he was “done” (retiring).
His fourth back surgery also led to an addiction to prescription drugs that resulted in Woods being arrested in Florida in May 2017 while asleep at the wheel of his car, before he completed “intensive” rehab.
But his comeback from oblivion is what makes his first major victory since the 2008 US Open so special.
All 14 of his previous majors came from at least a share of the 54-hole lead. But Woods started Sunday at Augusta two shots off the lead.
He bogeyed the last for a two-under-par 70 and a 13-under-par (275) total.
Big-hitting Johnson (68), Schauffele (68) and Koepka (70) tied second at 12 under.
Australia’s Jason Day (67) tied fifth at 11 under with 54-hole leader Francesco Molinari (74), Webb Simpson (70) and Tony Finau (72).
The turning point came when Molinari was taken victim by Augusta’s iconic par-3 12th, rinsing his tee shot for a double-bogey while Woods birdied to share the lead.
Woods was vintage when he took the outright lead with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 15th and never looked back.
He stiffed his tee shot at the par-3 16th for a tap-in birdie, before a regulation par on 17 allowed Woods to bogey the 72nd – and he did for an emotional victory.
Woods embraced his daughter, Sam, and son, Charlie, as well as mother Kultida, beside the 18th green.
Sam was 12 months old when Woods won his last major, while Charlie was born a year later, after his Torrey Pines triumph.
“To have my kids there, it’s come full circle; my dad was here (when I won) in 1997 and now I’m the dad,” a tearful Woods said in Butler Cabin.
Woods admitted his optimism at winning more majors has skyrocketed but was unsure if golf great Nicklaus was worried.
“Well, I don’t know if he’s worried but I’m sure he’s watching … I can win more majors now,” Woods said.
Woods became the oldest champion at Augusta since Nicklaus captured his sixth and final Masters aged 46 in 1986.
He also moved to within three of Jack Nicklaus’ all-time record 18 victories and one behind Sam Snead’s record 82 US PGA Tour wins.
“Yeah, I do (think I’m back) because I just did it,” Woods said.
Woods reached rock bottom since winning his 14th major.
His personal life unravelled in 2009 when reports of multiple extramarital affairs surfaced.
The scandal saw Woods crash his car, lose major sponsorship deals, spend 45 days in a clinic for sex addiction and undergo a divorce from wife Elin Nordegren.
He also conceded retirement was a possibility in late 2017 when he couldn’t swing a golf club for almost 10 months and plummeted to 1,199 on the world rankings.
“But you never give up; you always fight,” he said.
“Granted, pushing and being competitive got me into this position, but it’s also what got me out.”