AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It was just like old times Sunday afternoon at Augusta National Golf Club. Those “Tiger Roars” that had started on Thursday were louder than ever Sunday afternoon as Tiger Woods marched his way to his fifth Masters title and 15th major championship.
Tiger Roars at Augusta are different than at any other tournament. It’s not just the tall pines and the close proximity of many of the holes that make the sound reverberate all over the course.
At Augusta you have the “echo” Tiger Roars.
Because the scoreboards at Augusta are not electronic and done by hand, it takes a little time for scores to get posted. So like on Sunday when Woods made his birdie at No. 16 to take a two-shot lead, you heard the initial roar. Then about 30 seconds later you could hear a roar several hundred yards away up near the clubhouse at the No. 18 green where the large crowd there saw Woods’ birdie posted.
Being in the middle of a golf gallery when Tiger Woods is in contention is a crazy experience, but the fans, er, patrons, were absolutely nuts Sunday with shouts of “TIGER” rumbling through the Augusta layout every few seconds. Just the opposite of last year when hardly anyone was a Patrick Reed fan when he won, it seemed EVERYONE was a Tiger fan on Sunday. Grown men were absolutely giddy with excitement about the prospects of Tiger winning again.
As Utah’s Tony Finau, who played in the final threesome with Woods Sunday, put it, “You can’t beat the experience, you can’t pay for it. The crowd was going crazy for Tiger. For me, it was fun to be in that type of atmosphere.”
Chants of “Ti-ger, Ti-ger” exploded after he holed out for the victory and again as he made his way through the adoring throngs to get to the scoring building to sign his scorecard.
On his way to sign his scorecard and make it official, Woods was met by a host of fellow PGA Tour golfers waiting to congratulate him, including former champions Bernhard Langer, Zach Johnson and Bubba Watson and others including Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele. Later after his win, many of sports’ biggest names weighed in with congratulations, including LeBron James, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Magic Johnson and Steph Curry.
To say Woods is a popular champion is putting it lightly.
Putting aside some of the unseemly parts of Tiger’s past that led to the end of his marriage and contributed to his golf downslide, his comeback is truly remarkable. Just a couple of years ago he had the “chip yips” and there was a time when he had a hard time walking, let alone swinging a golf club.
“I had serious doubts after what transpired a couple of years ago,” he said afterward. “I could barely walk. I couldn’t sit. Couldn’t lay down. I really couldn’t do much of anything.”
But here was Tiger firing on all cylinders this week, with straight drives, a deft short game and clutch putting. The 14 years between Masters’ victories was a record, surpassing the 11-year span between two of Nicklaus’ wins.
While it looked like the old Woods on the golf course this week, it was a different Tiger Woods Sunday afternoon in the Masters interview room -- the poshest interview room in all of sports, by the way -- where each reporter has his own desk and microphone.
Woods, who used to almost disdain the press, patiently and with a smile answered reporters’ questions for close to an hour and was never condescending, even to the most inane question, as he might have been in the past.
He talked about his overall comeback, his frank discussion with his caddie after early back-to-back bogeys, his calmness, his gum-chewing (curbs his appetite, he claims) and which majors are most special to him (this one was “right up there”).4 comments on this story
His most poignant comments were about his family, however, remembering how his late father came out for his first victory in 1997 despite being sick and how special it was to have his mother and two children on hand for this one.
“It means the world to me,” he said. “Their love and their support, I can’t say enough about how much they meant to me throughout my struggles. Just to have them there and have them see their Pops win, just like my Pops saw me win here, it’s pretty special.”
Like him or not, it’s also pretty special to have Tiger Woods back on top of the golf world again.