Tiger Woods, fused back and all, landed his 15th and most unlikely major win at Augusta. Let's look at the key moments of an incredible Sunday
Tiger Woods’ four previous victories at Augusta had all come in his 20s. This time around he was 43, his back was fused, and he had barely touched a club from August 2015 to the end of 2017.
On the Tournament Sunday he had to get up at 3.45am to get his mind and body ready for his big day. At a point in the last century they tried to Tiger-proof the place, over 20 years later he was winning here again for a fifth time.
Woods has often spoken about only travelling to Georgia to take his place at the Champions Dinner, one year he could barely sit properly due to the shooting pains in his leg, this April he will be hosting again.
To celebrate one of the greatest weeks ever in the game we look back at 15 stand-out moments, one for each of his major victories…
1. Bryson DeChambeau actually shared the lead with Brooks Koepka after the first round with a 66. He would go on to finish in a tie for 29th while Koepka would come up one shot short.
2. Jason Day put his back out after giving his daughter a kiss on his way to the 1st tee. One hole later he would be receiving treatment, one day later he would be in a stellar five-way tie with Koepka, Francesco Molinari, Louis Oosthuizen, and Adam Scott. Tiger was one shot back on 6-under.
3. Welcome to the party Tony Finau. The man best known for his ankle practically falling off on his debut at the Par 3 tied the Masters record with a front nine of 30 en route to his 64 on Saturday. He would go into the now-rearranged two-tee-start Sunday, the leaders would go off at 9.20am due to the threat of thunderstorms, in a final threeball with Molinari and Woods. The Italian led by two at 13-under, Woods hadn’t missed a putt inside 10 feet all day.
4. Tiger bogeyed the newly-lengthened 5th for a fourth straight day to trail Molinari by three. It was just his second three-putt of the week.
5. When Molinari dropped a shot at the 7th it ended a run of 49 holes without a bogey or worse, the second-longest such streak in the history of the Masters. He would end the week with just two bogeys, sadly for him the two doubles on the back nine on Sunday would do for him.
6. At the 11th for the third time in four tee shots Woods hit a block but it was so far right he had a view of the green with just a 7-iron in.
“The tee shot was awful. I leaned on it, trying to hit it and flight it a little bit and it got stuck underneath. Had a shot. I just kept saying, if I can just sneak out of here with a par, we have a lot of golf left.”
7. The 12th proved itself once again to be the game changer. Up ahead Ian Poulter and Koepka ended up wet to drop two shots, Woods found the green and Finau and Molinari went the same way as the previous group.
“I had 147 over the first tongue in the bunker there, and so my number, I was hitting it 150 and just be committed to hitting it 150. I saw Brooksy ended up short. Poults ended up short, as well. When it was my turn to go, I could feel that wind puff up a little bit. Brooksy is stronger than I am, and he flights it better than I do, so I’m sure he hit 9‑iron and didn’t make it. So I knew my 9‑iron couldn’t cover the flag, so I had to play left, and I said, just be committed, hit it over that tongue in that bunker. Let get out of here and let’s go handle the par 5s, and I did.”
He and Molinari were tied at -11.
8. And Woods duly took care of the par 5s, finding the 13th green with an 8-iron before firing a 5-iron onto the 15th.
“I was able to hit both ends of the spectrum, low cuts and high draws. That’s not easy to do so I just really felt that I had that much control in my long game and it paid off.”
Molinari got wet at 15, Koepka picked up three shots in four holes to get to -12, the same mark as Patrick Cantlay who eagled 15. The latter would then bogey the next two.
9. DeChambeau and Justin Thomas had already aced the 16th on Sunday and Tiger nearly followed suit. An 8-iron landed in the funnel and with Woods beckoning it down – “Come on! Come on! Come on!” – to the hole it slid two feet past.
“I almost whooped it at 16.” Two clear.
10. Woods now had the fade with the driver under complete control and he gave himself a chance of a birdie at 17.
“I kept telling myself on 17, that tee shot, I said, I’ve been in this position before. I had a two‑shot lead with DiMarco (in 2005) and went bogey, bogey. Let’s go ahead and pipe this ball right down the middle. Hit a little flat squeezer out there and I did, I just smoked it.”
11. To 18 and the 3-wood, the same club that got the day started and another squeezed fade round the corner. Left himself an 8-iron in, a club which he had now used a staggering nine times on Sunday. Came up short, pitched on, two putts and it was done.
“On 18 I said, ‘Hey, it’s not over yet.’ Arnold lost the tournament and lost the hole with a double. So let’s keep the hammer down. Brooksy could still make birdie up 18 and I could make bogey and next thing you know we’re in a play-off, so let’s get this ball in play. I did, and I saw him tap out for par, and that gave me the cush knowing that I could make bogey.
“I had a little bit of mud on my ball playing that shot (the approach), and I said just make sure I overcut this thing; don’t undercut it. And I did. I whoofed it and hit it over to the right.”
12. Woods had never come from behind to win a major and, for the first time in 3,955 days, he managed it. He is the second oldest Masters winner Jack Nicklaus’ win at age 46 in 1986.
13. Dustin Johnson tied for 2nd, his best effort at Augusta. He would complete the Runners-Up Slam at the PGA Championship the following month at Bethpage.
14. Tiger led the field in Strokes Gained: Approach – over the last five years, players to lead the field in that statistic have finished 1st, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 1st in the tournament.
15. For the 24th time in the last 29 years the Masters winner came from the final grouping on Sunday. You very rarely win the Masters when coming from a long way behind with 94 per cent of Masters winners coming from the top five going into Sunday.