Tiger Woods seals fifth Masters title and 15th major

2019 Masters champ Tiger Woods completed arguably the greatest sporting comeback of all time as he put on the green jacket for the 5th time in his career.

Posted: Apr 15, 2019 11:30 AM
Updated: Apr 15, 2019 11:30 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.

READ: How Tiger Woods' 15th major has Jack Nicklaus 'shaking in his boots'

READ: I did think it would come, Woods tells CNN

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: Tiger by numbers: A remarkable win

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: 501097

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34338538
DeSoto32117403
Hinds31939628
Jackson24494382
Rankin21995390
Lee15543235
Madison14581280
Jones13851242
Forrest13453251
Lauderdale11991317
Lowndes11050188
Lamar10521135
Pearl River9533237
Lafayette8550140
Hancock7732127
Washington7438158
Oktibbeha7146131
Monroe6777177
Warren6694176
Pontotoc6664102
Neshoba6637206
Panola6531131
Marshall6467134
Bolivar6317148
Union602894
Pike5820152
Alcorn5669101
Lincoln5436135
George496879
Scott472898
Tippah469281
Prentiss467281
Leflore4658144
Itawamba4636105
Tate4588111
Adams4587119
Copiah448592
Simpson4446116
Yazoo444187
Wayne439772
Covington428894
Sunflower4239105
Marion4226108
Coahoma4160105
Leake408288
Newton381779
Grenada3707108
Stone360364
Tishomingo359792
Attala331589
Jasper329965
Winston314291
Clay308076
Chickasaw300367
Clarke292494
Calhoun279446
Holmes267987
Smith264050
Yalobusha234047
Tallahatchie228051
Greene219348
Walthall218763
Lawrence212940
Perry205556
Amite205156
Webster202946
Noxubee186740
Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171743
Carroll169138
Tunica159839
Benton148838
Kemper141941
Choctaw133426
Claiborne132737
Humphreys129538
Franklin120228
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64120
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 819597

Reported Deaths: 15406
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1147901924
Mobile725791338
Madison52306697
Shelby37597350
Baldwin37245552
Tuscaloosa35101612
Montgomery34106740
Lee23526246
Calhoun22225488
Morgan20941378
Etowah19825500
Marshall18361304
Houston17384412
St. Clair16054339
Cullman15443293
Limestone15343199
Elmore15241286
Lauderdale14302295
Talladega13836283
DeKalb12649261
Walker11202370
Blount10192176
Autauga10043148
Jackson9871184
Coffee9210191
Dale8897185
Colbert8860201
Tallapoosa7084198
Escambia6772134
Covington6712183
Chilton6641162
Russell636659
Franklin5959105
Chambers5607142
Marion5005127
Dallas4973200
Pike4795106
Clarke475584
Geneva4571127
Winston4516103
Lawrence4321117
Bibb425186
Barbour357776
Marengo338090
Monroe331464
Randolph329764
Butler326396
Pickens316284
Henry312666
Hale311388
Cherokee302860
Fayette292880
Washington251551
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245275
Clay243368
Macon234663
Lamar224147
Conecuh186153
Coosa180240
Lowndes175164
Wilcox168839
Bullock151644
Perry138840
Sumter133038
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 65°
Columbus
Clear
62° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 62°
Oxford
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 64°
Starkville
Clear
62° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 62°
Clear cool and dry to begin your weekend, but both afternoons should be a little bit above what we expect for this time of year temperature wise. Rain chances begin to return late Sunday night, with at least two chances for storms over the next week, summer could be strong.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather