It’s as if he never went away. He said last year that he was very lucky to be playing again, and the first thing that made this magical win happen was Tiger’s win at the Tour Championship last Autumn. That win was huge. It restored his self belief.
Going into The Masters earlier in the season he paced himself. He didnt put his back under too much strain by playing too much and going into Masters week he looked fresh.
Technically what was so impressive was his precision. His distance control was phenomenal all week. He controlled his trajectory, drawing his irons and hitting a slight fade with his driver. He made the most of his breaks and took advantage of the slopes. He patiently plotted his way around, his shot placement was brilliant.
But mentally this is where he looked head and shoulders above any other competitor. His poise, he was unflappable. He was slowing his heart rate with his breathing. He stayed present and focussed, chewing on his gum. And on the bag, Joe La Cava was a steadying hand. Tiger kept his head together under the severest of pressure and he looked stronger and stronger as the round went on. But he also looked as though he was searching for something at Augusta National. I think he was looking for his healing. And he found it out there a healing from the pain of the humility he has had to learn from his own self inflicted mistakes. He probably was also in some physical pain there. It looked on one tee that he took some painkillers, but it couldn’t have been as bad as when he won the 2008 US Open on one leg, it was discovered after the tournament that he had broken his leg, but he carried on regardless.
He had a lucky draw and had the best of the weather. The early finish, to avoid the incoming storm may have helped too, he didnt have to wait too long to get out and play the final round. And most helpful, coming from behind to win for the first time in a major, his competitors fell away. He acknowledged that Open Champion Frankie Molinari had given him a good battle. But Molinari made a lot of mistakes on the back nine – bad swings, missed birdies, not hitting it hard enough on 12, a rank shot on 15 and some plain unlucky breaks.
And so Tiger became Tiger Woods again, Sir Tiger of Isleworth of old. “Welcome back to the Butler Cabin Tiger” said syruppy Jim Nantz hosting the ceremony. And as Patrick Reed put on the green jacket on Tiger’s shoulders for the fifth time Tiger simply said
The same words that Cinderella used when she tried on the glass slipper. And this was a fairytale too, you had to pinch yourself that it was actually happening. I had been in tears since he came off the 15th green, having lived through all of it, from the time he first played here in the Walker Cup as an amateur.
Every golfer raises their game when Tiger is around, Every golfer, not just the top tournament professionals that play on tour with him. Golf becomes more popular.He is an inspiration, he moves the game and changes the direction it is going. Let us all give thanks for what happened because it has repercussions for everyone who plays at whatever ability or works in the golf industry.
His fellow pros knew this and so many were there to congratulate him around the 18th green, they perhaps had not have been inclined to do that before, but this was different. He was received into their fold, one of them, and amongst them was the most successful Champions Tour player, Bernhard Langer, an earnest man of God. He has seen beyond Tiger’s transgressions and seen the spirit of God moving in Tiger, and never more so than today.