Wonderful Woods completes stunning comeback with fifth Masters title

By Sports Desk April 14, 2019

Tiger Woods completed one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history and sparked frenzied scenes at Augusta National by winning the Masters to claim a first major title in almost 11 years.

An extraordinary final round, brought forward by the threat of inclement weather, ended with Woods topping the leaderboard by one shot at 13 under following a closing 70.

Now a 15-time major champion, Woods was two behind Francesco Molinari at the start of the day, but he managed to overhaul the Italian, who dramatically found water at the 12th and 15th, and hold off a host of other contenders in a thrilling finale.

Xander Schauffele, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka shared second on 12 under, with Molinari, who was still two clear with seven to play, finishing one further back in a share of fifth alongside Jason Day, Webb Simpson and Tony Finau.

Yet the day belonged definitively to Woods, who had never previously won a major having trailed heading into the final round and could afford the luxury of a bogey on the 18th. Understandably, the champion celebrated euphorically after sinking his winning putt, as spectators surrounding the green went wild.

When Woods last won a major, at the 2008 U.S. Open, he appeared a near-certainty to surpass Jack Nicklaus' record haul of 18 titles in golf's premier strokeplay events.

However, a shocking drought followed as he battled a succession of serious injuries, while his reputation was also damaged by lurid revelations about his private life.

As recently as November 2017, Woods was ranked 1,199th in the world, having acknowledged two months earlier that he may never play professionally again following his fourth back surgery.

Woods exceeded expectations last season, though, contending at two majors before claiming his first win in five years at the Tour Championship, and his remarkable return to the very top of the game is now complete.

When the pressure was at its highest on Sunday, with several players in contention, Woods found three birdies in four holes from the 13th to open up a two-shot advantage.

Five players - Woods, Molinari, Koepka, Schauffele and Johnson - shared the lead as the final group played the 15th hole, but golf's biggest name was soon out on his own. His tee shot at 16 almost produced a hole-in-one, which would truly have been the icing on the cake.

Amid the understandable fanfare for Woods, it was hard not to feel for Molinari, who won last year's Open Championship when paired with the former world number one for the final round.

Molinari never found his best form this time around and, although he initially demonstrated tremendous scrambling skills to stay in front, stretching his bogey-free run to 49 holes in the process, the wheels came off on the back nine and he signed for a 74.

Johnson and Schauffele shot 68 on the final day, while Koepka went round in 70. Of those three back in fifth, Day had the best score - a five-under 67.

Amid a frenetic finish, Patrick Cantlay briefly held sole possession of the lead after eagling the 15th, but he bogeyed the next two and shared ninth with Jon Rahm and Rickie Fowler.

The low amateur was Viktor Hovland, who completed a third successive 71 to finish three under.

Sunday's play began much earlier than scheduled, with players grouped in threesomes, due to the threat of storms in the afternoon.

In the end, nothing was going to steal Woods' thunder on a day that will live long in the memory.

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    2019 U.S. Open: Gary Woodland

    Woodland impressively claimed his first major title, holding off a surge from Koepka in the fourth round. They were the only two players to shoot four rounds in the 60s and Woodland sealed his win with a 30-foot birdie putt at the last.

    2019 US PGA Championship: Brooks Koepka

    Koepka has dominated this period, winning four majors including back-to-back US PGA and U.S. Open titles. Rounds of 63 and 65 to open at Bethpage Black this year set up a wire-to-wire two-stroke win.

    2019 Masters: Tiger Woods

    Undoubtedly the most unforgettable win of this lot was Woods' 15th major title and first since 2008. Woods secured a one-shot victory, birdies at the 15th and 16th holes closing out a memorable win.

    2018 US PGA Championship: Brooks Koepka

    It was Woodland who led at the halfway mark at Bellerive despite Koepka's second-round seven-under 63. Not even Woods (64 in the final round) could deny Koepka, who fired back-to-back 66s on the weekend to secure the title.

    2018 U.S. Open: Brooks Koepka

    Koepka recovered from an opening 75 at Shinnecock Hills, where he went into the final round in a four-way tie for the lead. Tommy Fleetwood charged home with a 63, but Koepka's two-under 68 was enough for a one-shot win.

    2018 Masters: Patrick Reed

    Reed took control in the second round at Augusta and his only round in the 70s – a 71 on Sunday – was enough to hold off Rickie Fowler. Reed was fourth at the U.S. Open that followed, but has failed to finish in the top 25 in the five majors since.

    2017 US PGA Championship: Justin Thomas

    Thomas claimed his only major title so far at Quail Hollow almost two years ago. The American fired rounds of 69 and 68 on the weekend to edge out last year's Open champion Francesco Molinari, Louis Oosthuizen and Reed.

    2017 Open Championship: Jordan Spieth

    Spieth was in control early at Royal Birkdale on his way to a third major title. However, a three-shot overnight lead disappeared in the final round before he produced an incredible birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie run beginning at 14 to earn a three-shot win over Matt Kuchar.

    2017 U.S. Open: Brooks Koepka

    The start of Koepka's run was in Wisconsin. He tied the U.S. Open record by reaching 16 under, which was enough for a four-stroke victory over third-round leader Brian Harman and Hideki Matsuyama.

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