Category Archives: The Masters

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Tiger Woods: A Redemption Story

Tiger Woods’ Redemption
Tiger Woods did what many thought would never be done. Not only did he win again after years of injuries and making no progress on his fragile back, but he won at Augusta National Golf Club claiming his fifth green jacket, his 15th major championship, and his 81st PGA tournament. Simply incredible.

But the road to another green jacket didn’t come easily. Over the 11-year drought between the 2019 Masters and the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, and the 14-year drought between Masters, Woods went from the top of the world to the bottom of the barrel on multiple occasions. For over a decade, Woods’ life wasn’t littered with major championships and a further ascent in the world of golf. Instead, it was defined by injuries, scandals, and at times, total disconnect from the game he dominated for years.
The Road from the 2008 U.S. Open to the 2019 Masters
The Downfall
June 16, 2008: Tiger Woods battles Rocco Mediate in an 18-hole playoff at Torrey Pines. It took 19 holes on a serious leg injury for Woods to claim his 14th major championship. It would be his last for 11 years.

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June 18, 2008: Shortly following his win at Torrey Pines, Woods announces he will miss the remainder of the PGA tour season due to ACL surgery on his left knee.

November 27, 2009: Woods crashes his Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant close to his Florida mansion. He was injured in the crash and spent less than a day in a Florida hospital. The crash unleashes the scandal involving his wife and the number of extramarital relationships Woods had.

December 2009 – March 2010: Woods spends time away from golf to work on trying to save his marriage after multiple women stepped forward speaking about affairs they’d had with Woods. His wife at the time, Elin Nordegren, files for divorce amidst Woods’ sex scandal and there is some speculation Woods’ crash was a result of him being beaten up by his wife. Multiple endorsements part way with Woods’ including Gilette and Gatorade.

April 2010: Woods makes his return to golf at the 2010 Masters where he finishes in a tie for fourth.

2011: Woods’ 2011 is plagued by an injury suffered during the 2011 Masters. He missed the 2011 Wells Fargo Championship due to a Grade 1 MCL sprain and Achilles strain. He then withdrew from the Players Championship and didn’t play again until the 2011 WGC Bridgestone. During the injury, Woods parted ways with caddie Stevie Williams and fell out of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in 15 years.
On the Rise
December 4, 2011: Woods wins the Chevron World Challenge to get his first professional win since November of 2009.

March-July 2012: Woods wins another PGA Tour event, this time the Arnold Palmer Invitational and goes on to win the Memorial Tournament and the AT&T National.

2013: Woods returns to the top of the game regaining the OWGR No. 1 spot in March. In 2013, Woods won five times on tour including the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP, and the WGC Bridgestone.

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Tiger Woods’ Injury-Plagued Years
March 2014: Woods announced he will undergo a microdiscectomy for a pinched nerve in his back. He would return later in the year but withdraw from the WGC Bridgestone and miss the cut at the 2014 PGA Championship.

August and December 2015: After missing the cut at the last three majors of the year, Woods’ undergoes yet another microdiscectomy in August with hopes of returning in the early part of 2016. Woods undergoes a third back surgery in December

2016: Woods misses the entire 2016 season recovering and dealing with his back.

Spring 2017: In April, Woods undergoes spinal fusion surgery in hopes of fixing his back after three previous surgeries were ultimately unsuccessful. In May, Woods is arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in Jupiter, Florida. Woods sited an unexpected reaction to prescription drugs as the cause of the incident.

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The Return to the PGA Tour
December 2017: After a long wait of over 300 days, Woods returns to the golf course at the Hero World Challenge where he finishes in a tie for ninth.

March 2018: Woods gets a taste of success on the PGA Tour again finishing in the top five in back-to-back weeks at the Valspar Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Summer 2018: Woods returns to form in major championships. He led at one point on the back nine at the Open Championship, finishing sixth and finished in solo second at the PGA Championship.
A Winner Again
September 23, 2018: Woods wins his 80th PGA Tour event at the Tour Championship at East Lake. The win was his first since he claimed the 2013 WGC Bridgestone Invitational. The win moved him to 13th in the Official World Golf Rankings.

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April 14, 2019: Tiger Woods, with a final round 70, wins the 2019 Masters. It is his fifth Masters, 15th major championship, and 81st PGA Tour victory

As you can see, the long 11-year journey from Torrey Pines to Augusta National was not easy and challenged Woods both on and off the course. Many thought the former world No. 1 would never win a tournament again, much less a major. But Woods has once again returned to the top of the golf world.

Main Photo:

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Tiger Woods, At Long Last, Turns Back the Clock to Win The Masters

On a balmy summer’s day at Torrey Pines in 2008, Tiger Woods lifted up the U.S. Open trophy, winning his 14th major on one leg. In 2005 at Augusta National, Woods’ “chip-in for the ages” on the 16th hole, would propel him to his fourth Green Jacket. Those who had followed and admired Tiger Woods believed that catching Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major championship record would be a foregone conclusion.

But it would be 14 years since his last Masters and 11 since that epic U.S. Open performance before Tiger Woods would be in the winner’s circle at a major championship. Separated by time, scandal and a plethora of injuries, Tiger Woods overcame what many deemed to be impossible. By shooting a final round 70, he would secure the 2019 Masters by one stroke, etching himself into the annals of golf history with his 15th major championship win.

“Woooooo!!!” yelled out Woods as he ran into the scorer’s room, amidst a pandemonium of patrons yelling “Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!”

The comeback is finally complete. Tiger’s back.
Tiger Woods Once Considered Quitting the Game of Golf
The Masters and Tiger Woods have become a conglomeration for the golf world every April. Since Tiger’s historic victory at the 1997 Masters, where he set the lowest four-round score at Augusta National (270), it became a realistic expectation that Woods would compete every year at this major.

But as a result of multiple injuries and surgeries to his back, knees and Achilles heel, there was a distinct possibility that Tiger Woods could not play golf again. He couldn’t walk his dog. Playing with his kids, Sam and Charlie, became a difficult burden. Even attending the Masters Champions Dinner two years ago, a staple tradition for past winners of the tournament, was riddled with pain and impending sorrow.

“I’m done, I won’t play golf again,” said Tiger at the 2017 Masters Champions Dinner. 

Words that no golfing fan wanted to hear. But a reality that Tiger once deeply considered, given the pain and suffering he was experiencing on a daily basis. Playing golf wasn’t even on his radar. Just having a quality of life that he could enjoy, was an existence he wanted to attain.
Tiger Woods Was Showing Signs that Major Win was Imminent
The golf prodigy, who became the most dominant athlete in sports, experienced arguably the most stunning fall from the pedestal of greatness. But one last-ditch effort at a surgery back in 2017, where his back became fused, would prove to be the procedure that would transform his life.

The 2018 PGA Tour season would be marked as the year the comeback began for Tiger Woods. He was in contention at the Valspar, Arnold Palmer Invitational and the PLAYERS Championship, just falling short. At the Open Championship, Tiger Woods walked to the 11th tee with the lead at the punitive Carnoustie golf course. But mistakes led to bogeys and Tiger would fall to Francesco Molinari’s brilliant steady play, going 37 holes without a bogey.

At the PGA Championship in Bellerive, Woods rallied once again in the final round, despite missing many fairways on the Front 9. But the clock turned back with the roars from the St. Louis crowd. Tiger was once again on the prowl, heading to the Back 9 one back of the lead. But being in contention and winning a major championship is a tremendous hill to climb. Brooks Koepka was in the way of Tiger winning his 15th major, snagging his third major in the last six he had played in away from the Big Cat.

Not a month later, the facets of Tiger’s game would all work in coordination at the TOUR Championship. As the gallery at East Lake ran onto to the 18th fairway that Sunday afternoon, Tiger tapped in to turn a page in his golfing career. His 80th PGA Tour victory was the return to glory for an athlete who had to conquer unimaginable adversity. Laying the foundation for what would come in April at The Masters.

“The win at East Lake was a confidence boost for me. I had come close but I needed to cross the finish line. It proved that I can still win out here with the best guys,” stated Woods.
Tiger Peaked at the Perfect Amphitheatre
Six months ago, preparation would begin for Tiger Woods to compete in the 2019 Masters. At the start of the 2019 PGA Tour season, Woods admitted that he would be playing less. So he could focus his mind, body, and game on winning major championships.

Heading into the final round of The Masters, Woods was in a familiar position. In the final group of a major and in the hunt, two strokes back of 54-hole leader Francesco Molinari. All 14 of Tiger’s previous major championship victories, he was in the lead. Playing in threesomes earlier in the day with the fear of inclement weather coming to Augusta, Woods had to start the preparation in the early morning hours.

“The reward is for playing hard and doing all the things correctly you get a little extra sleep in come Sunday, but that’s not going to be the case. We’ve got to get up early and get after it,” says Woods. 

Once considered the giant killer who would intimidate opponents with out of this world shots, Woods’ emotions were in check throughout the final round. He was just hanging in there. Not shooting his way out of the tournament. The 12th hole in the final round was the epitome of the new Tiger Woods. With Brooks Koepka, Francesco Molinari and Tony Finau hitting their tee shots into the water, Woods’ goal was to hit to the middle of the green. Which he did with ease. Woods wasn’t out to make the miracle shot but rather the smart shot. This mentality got him two birdies on the par-5 13 and 15 holes, followed up with an epic tee shot on the par-3 16th, reminiscent of Jack Nicklaus’ in 1986.

Tiger showcased his mental toughness once again but by being stoic and in the zone.

“I was just trying to plod my way around the golf course,” said Woods. “The best part of my game this week was shaping the golf ball. Two months ago, I was in a similar position. I was just telling myself to keep doing all the little things correctly and playing my game. I did that today.”
Tiger Woods’ Masters Victory Captures a Full Circle Moment with Family By His Side
“There is a difference between a roar for me and a roar for Tiger Woods,” Dustin Johnson affirmed after his final round on Sunday.

When Brooks Koepka missed his birdie chance on the 18th to tie Woods atop the leaderboard, the patrons at Augusta National knew that the Big Cat had this in the bag. Only requiring no worse than a bogey on the 72nd hole, Tiger would experience the jubilant coronation from the gallery, walking up the 18th fairway. Many golf historians are quick to reflect on Jack Nicklaus’ epic 30 on the Back 9 at the Masters in 1986, to win his 18th major at the age of 46. But Jack did not have to endure the trials and tribulations of coming back from injuries as Tiger did. Knowing the adverse road Tiger has been on to get to winning his 15th major championship, makes the victory even sweeter.

“I am just so grateful to have the opportunity to do this again,” stated Woods. “It’s ironic that the first major I would win since the comeback it would be from behind. It’s amazing.”

Winning his fifth Green Jacket, Woods was 10 of 14 fairways hit (74 percent), 15 of 18 greens in regulation (83 percent) and had 1.78 putts per green in regulation for the final round. When the win became official, the emotionally contained Woods let out a scream that was a semblance of when he would win majors on a consistent basis. When Tiger won in 1997, his embrace with his Father, Earl Woods, reflected the long journey it takes to secure a major championship. On Sunday, Tiger’s role reverse, as he hugged his kids and Mom, who were green side. A moment that the 15-time major winner will cherish for the rest of his life.

“For a long time, my kids saw that golf caused me a lot of pain. I struggled for many years,” said Woods. “The kids are understanding how much golf means to me and what I’ve done for the game. I hope they are proud of what I achieved.”

On the hallowed grounds of Augusta National, Tiger was back on the prowl. The road to greatness often is accompanied with potholes and obstacles. Tiger Woods once again proved that never giving up can lead to history being achieved.

And for the rest of the golf world, that means the Big Cat isn’t going away for a long time.The post Tiger Woods, At Long Last, Turns Back the Clock to Win The Masters appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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Tony Finau Poised for Successful Masters Final Round After Shooting 64

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Category : PGA , PGA Tour , The Masters , Tony Finau

Tony Finau walked off the 18th green the same way he started his third round at Augusta National. Cool, calm and collected. Nothing seems to phase Finau, even though he is playing on golf’s most prestigious stage. On a wild Saturday at The Masters, Finau would propel his way up the leaderboard with a third round 64. Along with Webb Simpson and Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau’s 64 would etch their performances into Masters history. The first time in the 83 year history of the tournament where three golfers shot a 64 on the same day.

“The conditions were perfect today,” said Finau. “These golfers are really good. The golf course hasn’t changed over the last couple days so we know the targets to hit when driving off the tee and hitting into the green.”
Finau Looking for Better Outcome After Injury-Plagued 2018 Masters
One year ago, Tony Finau participated in the annual Masters Par-3 Contest, the Wednesday before tournament action. Finau would achieve what many golfers yearn to conquer in their lifetimes; to get a hole-in-one. But what would transpire for the 29-year-old was less than ideal. While celebrating his ace, Finau rolled his ankle, seriously injuring it. After he underwent tests, it had revealed that he had torn ligaments, but no evidence of structural damage.

Despite the adversity of playing golf with a limited ankle, Finau never withdrew from last year’s Masters. He would end up finishing tied for 10th, firing a final round 66, where he would birdie six consecutive holes from 12 to 17. Even though he was visibly hobbling, the tranquility of his persona remained constant. As he teed it up this week at Augusta, Finau “April Fooled” the golfing world into a frenzy where he showcased the shoes he would “wear” to protect his ankle. Joking aside, no one is laughing at the way Finau is performing this week at the Masters. Deep beneath the stoic facade is a fierce competitor, who can sustain successful play when he is on a hot streak.


“It was actually a great feeling to stand on the first tee Thursday feeling healthy,” Finau said. “This is a golf course I like, and I feel like I can play well. Last year, even though it kind of took the pressure off me, it was awkward playing hurt that way. This year, there was none of that.”

Tony Finau Relying on Previous Major Championship Experience to Prepare for Masters Final Round
Tony Finau epitomized what Moving Day means at Augusta National. An opportunity to set you up on the precipice of attaining illustrious golf history. Finau would tie a Masters record, shooting 30 on the front 9. This included an eagle on the par-5 8th, which propelled him to the top of the leaderboard.

“I didn’t hear a lot of roars,” said Finau. “I saw Rickie Fowler coming down 9 and he gave me a thumbs up, saying “You could’ve made it.” It was nice to make a 3 there on 8, setting myself up for success the rest of the round.”

While he only got two birdies on the back 9 on the two par-5’s, Finau’s steady driving accuracy and ball striking propelled him to the final group on Sunday. Hitting 15 of 18 Greens in Regulation (83 percent) and 12 of 14 Fairways Hit (86 percent), Tony Finau was in a laser-focused zone all the way to the Augusta National clubhouse.

On an early Sunday final round start, Tony Finau will be paired with 18-time major winner Tiger Woods and the 2018 Open Champion Francesco Molinari, currently possessing a two-shot lead. For Finau, this is not the first time he will be in the final group of a major championship. At the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills, Finau experienced the pressure and expectation of being the last one out on Sunday. Shooting a final round 72 would put him into fifth place, but the knowledge he gained will prepare him for tomorrow, as he embarks on trying to win his first Masters.

“Having that experience under my belt at Shinnecock will most definitely help me tomorrow,” affirmed Finau.

The roars are going to perpetuate throughout Augusta as Tiger attempts to chase his 15th major. But for Tony Finau, remaining in his calm frame of mind will suit him well, looking to attack an Augusta National course that suits his game impeccably.

 The post Tony Finau Poised for Successful Masters Final Round After Shooting 64 appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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