On Sunday Tiger Woods secured his fifth Masters win at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, marking what even casual golf fans have to acknowledge is one of sports’ most inspiring comebacks.
The news of Woods’ 15th major title—and his first in 11 years—is a sweet (if not shocking) ending to a rough journey. While suffering through intense back problems, by 2014 Woods had slipped in ranking to outside the top 1,000; he was a far cry from championship status. Woods then fell into a depression, admitting to CNN that he was barely functioning. Even the most routine activities, from getting out of bed in the morning to taking his children to school, were a challenge. He thought his career was over.
By May 2017 it seemed Tiger Woods had hit rock bottom; he was arrested in Palm Beach, Florida, for a suspected DUI after being discovered in his car, asleep, on the side of the road. When Woods’ test results came back positive for five drugs, including painkillers, sleep aids and THC, Woods claimed he had been trying to treat his back pain and didn’t realize how the drugs were affecting him. He pleaded guilty to reckless driving as part of a program for first-time DUI offenders.
Determined to get his life and career back on track, Woods had a successful spinal fusion operation in 2017 and went on to clinch his first win in five years in 2018. On Sunday, when the 43-year-old won by one shot, it was his first triumph at Augusta since 2005.
“It’s overwhelming just because of what has transpired,” Woods said in the Green Jacket ceremony in the Butler Cabin.
“Last year I was very lucky to be playing again. At the previous Champions Dinner I was really struggling and missed a couple of years of not playing this great tournament and now I’m the champion. Twenty two years between wins, it’s a long time and it’s unreal for me to experience this. My Mom was here, she was there in 1997 as well. I’m just so happy and excited and I’m at a loss for words.”
Congratulations to Tiger Woods and his epic comeback. Now he just has to win four more major titles to beat record-holder Jack Nicklaus!
Correction: Sept. 22, 2019, 2:22 p.m. ET: This story has been edited to clarify the types of drugs in Tiger Woods’ system in May 2017 and to remove unattributed text.