By Rob Lep
For 11 years we waited. We wondered. We debated.
Sports talking heads had a field day, flipping back and forth like pancakes in a breakfast pan on a Sunday morning.
Is Tiger Woods back? Is Tiger Wood’s back going to hold up? Will he ever win another major championship and give Jack Nicklaus a run for his money for the most of all-time?
Yes, you’re damn right he’s back. Tiger is your 2019 Masters Champion.
The question becomes is Tiger’s win at Augusta the greatest comeback in sports history?
Time for me to put on my professor cap. It’s time for a history lesson.
In 1994, George Foreman reclaimed the heavyweight championship of the world at age 45, defeating 26 year old Michael Moorer in the 10th round of their bout. The 26-year-old Moorer went into the fight 35-0. The win made him the oldest boxing champion in history.
In 2004, the Boston Red Sox came back from down 0-3 to beat their arch rival Yankees in Game 7 to win the ALCS.
In Super Bowl 51, the New England Patriots came back from down 28-3 with 2:09 left in the third quarter to shock the Atlanta Falcons for their FIFTH Super Bowl Title.
Tom Brady GOAT. BAAAAAA. That’s the noise a goat makes!
Michael Jordan left the NBA in October 1993 as the best basketball player on the planet after winning three straight NBA championships to play minor league baseball for 17 months.
In March 1995, he returned with a two word press release; “I’m back”. The Bulls won another three-peat and Jordan walked off into the sunset as the greatest to ever do it.
All these are great. Remarkable. Improbable. But they damn well aren’t Tiger.
We didn’t just question if Tiger Woods would ever win a major again, we wondered if he’d ever play a golf tournament again.
If he would ever be competitive in contention on the back nine of a major championship on a Sunday.
Check. Check. Check.
After Sunday’s final round, Dustin Johnson, a U.S. Open Champion, compared a cheer from the crowd for him or any other player versus a “Tiger Roar.”
“It’s just different.”
You’re damn right it is.
The eight knee and back surgeries. The Thanksgiving Day 2009 fiasco. His now ex-wife chasing him out of the house with a golf club. The infidelities. The cover up. The DUI arrest and mugshot.
Falling to the floor in agony and pain at the 13th hole of the 2013 Barclays. Withdrawing from the 2017 Masters and the 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational back in March. Coming so close at major championships but never able to seal the deal on a Sunday.
These are the moments and scenes we’ve played back in our heads for the last decade plus.
This was never supposed to happen. But hell, winning 14 majors before the age of 33 wasn’t either.
As a 20-year old kid to take over golf and the sports world certainly wasn’t either. He lived up to the bleeping hype. That almost never happens. The sequel is even more improbable than the original.
No surprise to anyone that Woods is the betting favorite at 8-1 at the PGA Championship this month at Bethpage Black on Long Island, a course he won this very major at back in 2002.
I’ve said for a long time that Tiger doesn’t just move the needle in golf, he is the needle.
The start of the final round was moved due to rain. It was the most watched morning golf program of all-time. CBS Execs in fancy suits and sports cars: say thank you to Tiger. Please and thank you. How polite of you.
In life and in sports we love a great comeback story. I’m putting Tigers comeback with everything that it entails at the top of the list.
He won his first major championship back in 1997 as an 18 year old kid, the year i was born. He wins his fifteenth in 2019 as a 43-year-old man, riding the ups and downs that life presents, as I get set to graduate college. More than two decades apart.
Tigers return to glory is number one for me.