“It still gets me a little teary.”
For Tiger Woods, it was a long and arduous journey back to the top.
After dominating golf for over a decade, his life went into a tailspin. There was the much-publicised sex scandal, of course, which forced him to take time away from the game.
Having battled his demons, Woods’ greatest adversary turned out to be his own body.
Persistent back injuries had a crippling effect on his career, ravaging his physical wellbeing to the point at which he was forced to undergo make-or-break spinal fusion surgery in April 2017.
It was a long, gruelling process, during which Woods was filled with doubts regarding his future as a competitive golfer. Shortly after his surgery, there was another low-point when he was arrested for driving under the influence near his home in Jupiter Island, Florida.
Thankfully, Woods managed to build his body back up again to the point where he became a presence on the leaderboards of the biggest tournaments once again.
He had a run at the 2018 Open Championship only to be outplayed by Francesco Molinari. Two months later, Woods was not to be outdone as he confirmed his return in style with victory at the Tour Championship.
But he was far from done. In April 2019, Woods completed one of the most remarkable sporting comeback stories by outlasting the cream of golf to win his fifth Masters title – and his first since 2005.
— GOLFTV (@GOLFTV) November 10, 2020
For Woods, special moments on the hallowed turf at Augusta came full circle. In 1997, Woods exploded onto the scene with a landscape-altering 12-stroke victory at the Masters.
After he won in ’97, he celebrated with his father, Earl Woods, who passed away in 2006.
When Tiger won last year, he was the father, embracing his kids, Sam and Charlie, behind the 18th green in intense, emotional scenes.
The power of those moments has not dimmed in Woods’ memory, even 19 months on as he prepares for the belated defence of his Masters crown.
“It was a fight and a grind, just trying to hang in there and make a dent in the lead,” Woods said while recalling his 2019 victory, which saw him exact revenge on Molinari, who imploded down the back nine having held the overnight lead.
“Frankie [Molinari] basically had control of it, then number 12 happened. And everything flipped.
“Just to see my family there, my mom and my kids, and all the people that helped support me, that were there for me during the tough times.
“I was walking up there trying not to lose it, saying ‘hey, I’ve still got to two-putt this’.
“And then when I walked off the back of the green, to see Charlie there and open up her arms, it meant a lot to me – and still does.
“It reminded me so much of me and my dad, and to come full circle like that, it still gets me a little teary.”
— The Masters (@TheMasters) November 10, 2020