By Classfmonline.com on 2019-04-15 09:10:08
Tiger Woods ended his 11-year wait for a major on a dramatic final day at the Masters, seeing off Francesco Molinari and a host of other challengers in a fierce battle to claim his fifth green jacket – and first since 2005...
Tiger Woods ended his 11-year wait for a major on a dramatic final day at the Masters, seeing off Francesco Molinari and a host of other challengers in a fierce battle to claim his fifth green jacket – and first since 2005. For a long time, the 43-year-old feared he might never play golf again but spinal fusion surgery back in 2017 kick-started an improbable comeback that culminated in a 15th Major as he rolled back the years at Augusta. It was Molinari – who enjoyed an incredible 2018, winning The Open and becoming the first European to win five points in a talismanic display at the Ryder Cup – who started the day out in front on -13, with Woods and Tony Finau just two strokes behind.
To add to the intrigue, all three players went out together in the final group, with play starting significantly earlier than usual due to forecasted bad weather and thunderstorms in the afternoon. Woods revealed that he set his alarm for 4am to get ready for the early start and there were a few cobwebs as he got his fourth round underway, carding back-to-back bogeys on the fourth and fifth holes. Molinari, meanwhile, was his usual measure of calm and nerveless putting, at least up until the seventh hole when he recorded his first bogey in 50 holes – but bounced straight back with a birdie on the next.
Woods sensed his opportunity though, posting back-to-back birdies this time, and at the turn, there was just one shot between the two men with little threat, at this stage at least, of a charge coming from the chasing pack. But Woods posted his third bogey at the start of the back nine to give Molinari breathing room once again heading into Amen Corner on an afternoon full of twists and turns, while Finau’s challenge never really got going, dropping down the leaderboard. After both parring the testing 11th – Woods scrambling from the trees after a wayward drive – it was Molinari who made his first serious misstep at the 12th, sending his tee shot into the water as he recorded a double bogey to relinquish his lead for the first time since Saturday.
Just as the Italian was wilting, the chasing pack started to apply the pressure at last with a string of eagles; Bubba Watson and Patrick Cantlay at the 15th – the latter briefly leading on -12 – and Brooks Koepka following up a double bogey at the 12th with an eagle on the next hole. Xander Schauffele carded five birdies over seven holes to join Cantlay at the top, but they weren’t alone for long as Woods and Molinari both made birdies at the 12th to set up a thrilling finale.
Although Molinari had started the day in control, with just a few holes left to play the leaderboard was becoming very crowded; three birdies in a row saw Dustin Johnson move to -12 seemingly out of nowhere, while Koepka also joined the leaders. Unusually, it was the normally unflappable Italian who blinked first, clipping a tree at the 15th to land in the drink for a second time and posting another double bogey, dropping to -10 as his pursuit of the green jacket faded.
It was at this very moment that Woods began to take control, conjuring memories of past glories at the perfect time to birdie back-to-back holes on the 15th and 16th – his tee shot at the latter requiring a simple two foot tap in – and prompt huge roars from the watching fans around Augusta as he took a two-shot lead. Woods, looking just like his old self in his trademark red top, maintained his composure on the final two holes, though the emotion overflowed as he sunk the biggest putt of his long and storied career to spark jubilant scenes of emotion, immediately running over to celebrate with his two children and mum. This one meant more, and, at long last, Tiger is truly back.
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