Tiger Woods Is 1 Victory From Tying Jack Nicklaus' Masters Record
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Sunday was the final round of the 2019 Masters golf tournament. But watching what happened, you could not help feeling like some sort of time traveler - right? - maybe going back 15 or so years when Tiger Woods ruled the game. Well, turns out he's the ruler again. Woods won the Masters yesterday for the fifth time. It's the first major championship in nearly 11 years, his first Masters victory in 14, and it completes really one of the most dramatic comebacks in sports history. And joining me now is NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Hi, Tom.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hi, David.
GREENE: Let's start right at the end of Sunday right after Tiger won. I mean, he was about as emotional as we've ever seen him really, right?
GOLDMAN: Yeah. You know, he was screaming, raising his arms - and not just on the green where he sank the last putt but walking this gauntlet of adoring fans and even fellow players on his way to the scoring room. We've rarely seen this. He's often guarded with a shield up, but he was particularly emotional with his two young kids, who were waiting for him next to the final green. He said after the round, this was a chance for them to see their dad win a major and get a sense of what golf means to him and what he means to golf. Here he is.
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TIGER WOODS: Prior to this comeback, they only knew that golf caused me a lot of pain. If I tried to swing a club, I'd be - end up on the ground. And I struggled for years, and that's basically all they remember.
GREENE: I mean, remind us about the path he's been on. There's been a lot of injury. There's been a lot of pain.
GOLDMAN: How long do we have, David? Yeah. Of course, the injuries, the surgeries, including four back surgeries - the last one a fusion operation, which really saved his career. And on his way back to health, there was the 2017 DUI arrest, which he blamed on mismanaging his pain medications. And then, of course, before that when news flashed that he had a car accident outside his home - and that, of course, was the first event in what became a tawdry sex scandal. It blew up his marriage, seriously damaged his carefully crafted public image. So, yes, after this long, long road, you can understand yesterday's reaction.
GREENE: Let's talk about the day of golf at Augusta yesterday. I mean, there were other players who had a shot to win this. It wasn't just him.
GOLDMAN: No. It was amazing. I mean, it just - yeah, it was. And the back and forth and, you know, six or seven players with a chance to win. It was the first major where he didn't lead or have a share of a lead going into the final round, so he had to come from behind. And he didn't exactly explode out of the gate. He struggled early before finding a rhythm. And then ultimately, he withstood all those players around him, surging up the leaderboard. And he told reporters that last year's British Open, where he led in the final round - that actually helped him yesterday.
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WOODS: I just kept saying, I've been here and not that long ago. Just go ahead and just keep playing your game. Keep plodding along. And keep doing all the little things correctly, keep missing the ball in the correct spots. You know, be committed to it when, you know, the wind's puffing up and down. Be committed to the shot and the shot shape. And I was.
GREENE: Tom, we used to talk about Tiger Woods maybe breaking Jack Nicklaus's record of 18 major wins. I mean, that conversation just went away for a long time.
GREENE: Is it back on the table?
WOODS: It is. As long as he stays healthy and the back stays healthy, I think it is. He reminded us yesterday he's been a contender late in the last three major tournaments. He's 43. He's still in fantastic shape. You know, with the science now behind training and diet, this could go on and maybe even soon. The next two majors - next month's PGA Championship, June's U.S. Open - are on courses where Woods already has won. He's got the muscle and mental memory, so look out.
GREENE: NPR's sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Thanks, Tom.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome.
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