STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Tiger Woods seals fifth Masters title and 15th major

Tiger Woods clinched his fifth Masters and 15th major title to seal one of the greatest comeback stories in sport after overcoming career-threatening back problems. CNN's Don Riddell reports.

Posted: Apr 15, 2019 3:20 AM
Updated: Apr 15, 2019 3:20 AM

Tiger Woods clinched his fifth Masters and 15th major title to seal one of the greatest comeback stories in sport after overcoming career-threatening back problems.

The 43-year-old muscled his way through a tightly packed leaderboard to win by one shot at Augusta for his first major title in 11 years and first Masters win since 2005.

It completes a fairytale return for the most dominant player of his generation -- and arguably the best ever -- after enduring "dark times" through injury since 2014.

Woods underwent career-saving spine fusion surgery in 2017 and sealed an impressive comeback season last year with his first win for five years.

Sunday's thrilling victory to complete a remarkable redemption puts the former world No.1 just three majors behind the all-time record of Jack Nicklaus.

Only fellow American Nicklaus has won more Masters, with six. Woods also joins Nicklaus as the only player to have won the Masters in three different decades after he clinched his first as a 21-year-old in 1997.

"It's overwhelming just because of what has transpired," Woods said in the Green Jacket ceremony in the Butler Cabin.

"Last year I was very lucky to be playing again. At the previous Champions Dinner I was really struggling and missed a couple of years of not playing this great tournament and now I'm the champion. Twenty two years between wins, it's a long time and it's unreal for me to experience this. My mom was here, she was there in 1997 as well. I'm just so happy and excited and I'm at a loss for words."

READ: Tiger Woods: I don't need to win the Masters, but I really want to'

Visit CNN.com/Sport for more news, features and video

'Epic Sunday'

Woods began the day two shots behind Italy's Francesco Molinari, and rode the roller coaster of a gripping final round to first share the lead after the Italian found the water in front of the short 12th.

Two holes later five players were tied at the top, but Woods' birdie on the long 15th took him clear on his own. Another birdie on the short 16th ignited thunderous roars which reverberated around the towering pines as Woods marched off with a two-shot lead and a thousand-yard stare in scenes reminiscent of his heyday.

Sporting a red mock turtleneck in a nod to his last win at Augusta in 2005, and chewing gum throughout, Woods maintained his focus to edge world No.2 Dustin Johnson, three-time major champion Brooks Koepka and another American Xander Schauffele.

When the winning putt dropped, Woods clenched his fist and punched the air to tumultuous applause, before walking off the 18th to embrace his mother Kutilda, children Sam and Charlie, girlfriend Erica Herman and members of his team. Woods' father and mentor Earl died in May 2006.

"To have my kids there, it's come full circle," Woods added. "My dad was there in 1997 and now I'm the dad with two kids there."

The celebrations lasted an eternity as the patrons chanted "Tiger, Tiger" around the 18th green before a beaming Woods whooped and high-fived his way to the scorer's hut.

Woods' bogey at the last gave him a round of 70 for his first major title when trailing going into the final day.

"It's been an epic Sunday here at the Masters and a great day for golf, just one of the most amazing days in our history," said Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley.

READ: The Masters A-Z in photos

Downward spiral

Woods changed golf forever when he clinched his first Masters by a record 12 shots in 1997. Because of him, players became fitter, prize money increased and interest in the game jumped significantly. He's been golf's heart, soul and chief needle mover ever since.

Woods may not have been to everyone's liking over the years, perhaps from a combination of his unerring success in his early 2000s pomp, his single-minded pursuit of excellence, a frosty persona and later personal choices.

But life's issues appear to have mellowed him of late and the remarkable reception he received at Augusta suggested the narrative of his back story gave the sporting achievement more resonance.

A raft of celebrities took to social media to congratulate Woods.

NBA star Steph Curry called it "the greatest comeback story in sports," while tennis legend Serena Williams said she "was in tears" and said it was "greatness like no other."

Nicklaus tweeted his praise, while even former US President Barack Obama joined in.

In the build-up to the Masters Woods said he couldn't have foreseen being stranded on 14 majors when he won his last, the US Open, in 2008. He was later diagnosed with a fractured leg and took the rest of the season off but from then on nothing was the same.

At the 2009 US PGA he led going into the final round but failed to seal the win for the first time in his major career, losing to South Korea's YE Yang.

Later that year, news of his extra marital affairs broke, ending in divorce, and Woods' golf and life took a downward spiral.

Greatest ever?

Woods fought his way back to world No.1 in 2013 but the back issues surfaced the following year.

Many wrote off his career as the injuries took their toll on his form, world ranking -- he plunged to outside the top 1,000 -- and quality of life.

He admits he struggled with everyday tasks such as getting out of bed, driving and taking his kids to school, and is widely reported to have confided at the pre-Masters Champions Dinner a couple of years ago: "I'm done."

But after seeing a specialist in England, Woods underwent fusion surgery, his fourth back procedure, in the US. However, if things looked bleak from a playing point of view, Woods looked to have hit rock bottom when he was arrested on a driving under the influence charge in May 2017.

Found asleep at the wheel of his car at the side of a road in Palm Beach, Florida, pictures and dashcam video of a confused and disoriented Woods were flashed around the world.

He was later found to have five different drugs in his system, but Woods blamed the incident on the prescription painkillers he was taking for his back injuries. He pleaded guilty to reckless driving and was put on a diversion program, but from that nadir, Woods' trajectory has reached sky high.

On doctor's advice he made a tentative return to hitting golf balls at home in late August 2017, and returned to the circuit in 2018 with remarkable success,. He briefly led the Open at Carnoustie before finishing second to Koepka in the US PGA and winning the Tour Championship for his 80th PGA Tour title, just two behind the record of Sam Snead.

And now this.

"This will be up there with one of the hardest I've had to win because of what transpired over the last couple of years," he added.

"it was just an amazing buzz out there, trying to figure out what was going on but to stay present and focused on what i was trying to do. I kind of liked it."

Greatest ever already? Maybe.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 331863

Reported Deaths: 7494
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22855279
Hinds22625437
Harrison19462326
Rankin14765286
Jackson14233251
Madison10658227
Lee10398178
Jones8713169
Forrest8164157
Lauderdale7528243
Lowndes6761150
Lamar665988
Lafayette6446124
Washington5497139
Bolivar4907134
Pearl River4889149
Oktibbeha476898
Panola4719112
Marshall4648106
Warren4612125
Pontotoc438873
Monroe4243137
Union424379
Neshoba4179180
Lincoln4088115
Hancock402788
Leflore3562125
Pike3511111
Tate348988
Alcorn343174
Sunflower342293
Adams331987
Yazoo330573
Scott330175
Simpson313690
Copiah311467
Itawamba309580
Coahoma308285
Tippah298368
Prentiss292563
Covington280183
Marion278980
Leake277975
Wayne269942
Grenada265688
George259851
Newton256064
Tishomingo235769
Winston235084
Jasper225748
Attala220373
Chickasaw215960
Stone209137
Holmes194974
Clay191554
Tallahatchie181542
Clarke181480
Calhoun177332
Smith175334
Yalobusha169240
Walthall140448
Lawrence137026
Greene134934
Amite131843
Noxubee131135
Perry130838
Montgomery130644
Carroll124531
Webster116732
Jefferson Davis112934
Tunica110827
Benton104425
Claiborne104231
Kemper100329
Humphreys99033
Franklin85923
Quitman83519
Choctaw80919
Wilkinson73232
Jefferson69028
Sharkey51518
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 565510

Reported Deaths: 11468
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson828061584
Mobile44938853
Madison36534532
Tuscaloosa26589465
Shelby26409255
Montgomery25598623
Baldwin23319324
Lee16691179
Calhoun15030332
Morgan14877288
Etowah14563368
Marshall12723235
Houston11302292
Elmore10576217
St. Clair10449251
Limestone10420158
Cullman10198204
Lauderdale9883253
DeKalb9226191
Talladega8705187
Walker7545286
Autauga7388113
Jackson7216117
Blount7147139
Colbert6522142
Coffee5962131
Dale5224117
Russell463942
Chilton4603117
Covington4502125
Franklin439781
Tallapoosa4343156
Escambia414782
Chambers3813124
Dallas3674163
Clarke361562
Marion3354106
Pike323179
Lawrence3176101
Winston289672
Bibb276165
Geneva267383
Marengo257367
Barbour241860
Pickens238862
Butler233571
Hale230578
Fayette223863
Henry203345
Cherokee192347
Randolph192244
Monroe190241
Washington174539
Macon167252
Crenshaw163457
Clay161859
Cleburne158445
Lamar149138
Lowndes143854
Wilcox128431
Bullock125342
Conecuh117730
Coosa115229
Perry109628
Sumter107532
Greene95935
Choctaw63125
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
84° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 74°
Feels Like: 92°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
82° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 91°
Oxford
Partly Cloudy
81° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 85°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
86° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 97°
High pressure gradually builds into our area over the next several days. This will gradually dwindle away chances for some showers and thunderstorms. As the chances for rainfall dwindle, chances for greater heat and heat index values will increase.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather