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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'

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'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: 333180

Reported Deaths: 7502
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22901279
Hinds22780438
Harrison19569326
Rankin14851287
Jackson14342251
Madison10692227
Lee10437179
Jones8746169
Forrest8210157
Lauderdale7561243
Lowndes6790150
Lamar669688
Lafayette6459124
Washington5516139
Pearl River4915149
Bolivar4909134
Oktibbeha478498
Panola4723112
Marshall4654106
Warren4640127
Pontotoc440473
Monroe4255137
Union425379
Neshoba4182180
Lincoln4098115
Hancock405088
Leflore3565125
Pike3530112
Tate349588
Alcorn343974
Sunflower343093
Adams333387
Scott331775
Yazoo331173
Simpson314890
Copiah313867
Itawamba310180
Coahoma308785
Tippah298868
Prentiss292963
Covington282483
Marion279580
Leake278475
Wayne270743
Grenada266388
George261651
Newton256664
Tishomingo236869
Winston235584
Jasper226148
Attala220873
Chickasaw216360
Stone210237
Holmes195674
Clay192254
Clarke182080
Tallahatchie181742
Calhoun177532
Smith175935
Yalobusha169440
Walthall141548
Lawrence137726
Greene135734
Amite132843
Noxubee131635
Perry131038
Montgomery130944
Carroll124531
Webster117532
Jefferson Davis113334
Tunica111127
Benton104625
Claiborne104331
Kemper100729
Humphreys99133
Franklin85923
Quitman83519
Choctaw81319
Wilkinson74632
Jefferson69728
Sharkey51518
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 570667

Reported Deaths: 11483
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson834821584
Mobile45819855
Madison36785532
Tuscaloosa26757465
Shelby26612255
Montgomery25739624
Baldwin23810325
Lee16801181
Calhoun15130332
Morgan14941289
Etowah14662368
Marshall12806235
Houston11515292
Elmore10654217
St. Clair10521251
Limestone10472158
Cullman10257204
Lauderdale9991253
DeKalb9298191
Talladega8739187
Walker7594286
Autauga7419113
Jackson7269117
Blount7184139
Colbert6583142
Coffee6045131
Dale5326117
Russell465842
Chilton4645117
Covington4579125
Franklin444381
Tallapoosa4379157
Escambia420082
Chambers3852125
Dallas3688163
Clarke364462
Marion3380106
Pike324879
Lawrence3192101
Winston291072
Bibb280165
Geneva271583
Marengo258567
Barbour243461
Pickens239162
Butler236172
Hale231878
Fayette224564
Henry205145
Randolph194944
Cherokee193948
Monroe192141
Washington177139
Macon167552
Crenshaw164458
Clay162559
Cleburne159145
Lamar149538
Lowndes144354
Wilcox129231
Bullock125642
Conecuh118130
Coosa116029
Perry109928
Sumter108032
Greene97836
Choctaw63825
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