Augusta, April 14, 2019 — Tiger Woods’ comeback is complete.
At the age of 43, he looked like the Tiger of old on Sunday with a victory at the Masters, snapping a major championship drought of nearly 11 years that dated back to a victory in the 2008 U.S. Open. He had birdies on holes 13, 15 and 16 down the stretch to seize the lead, returning to championship form after his golf career had been derailed by a knee injury debilitating back issues and personal strife.
It was the fifth Masters title, one off Jack Nicklaus’ record of six. It also marked his 15th major championship, inching closer to Nicklaus’ storied mark of 18.
Woods’ last win at Augusta National had come 14 years earlier. The PGA Tour victory was his 81st, also second-best all-time.
Woods entered the final round two shots behind leader Francesco Molinari, and joined Molinari and Tony Finau in the final threesome. His 5-under 67 Saturday got him to 11 under and tied with Finau for second.
Woods closed with a 2-under 70 to finish the tournament at 13 under. Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele, all Americans, shared runner-up honors at 12 under. Molinari, Webb Simpson, Australia’s Jason Day and Finau tied for fifth at 11 under.
With a two-shot edge, Woods played stayed safe on the 18th hole and had two putts to win. He made the second, then walked off the green, pumping his fist, to greet his family amid chants of “Tiger, Tiger, Tiger.”
Despite back-to-back bogeys on the fourth and fifth holes, Woods recovered with birdies on Nos. 7 and 8.
Molinari had gone more than 2 1/2 rounds without a bogey until he posted a 5 on No. 7. It was only his second bogey of the tournament.
At about the time Woods was recovering from a wayward tee shot on No. 11 to save par, Koepka took a double-bogey on the 12th hole to fall from a share of second place to eighth.
Then Molinari’s tee shot on No. 12 went into the Rae’s Creek, resulting in a double-bogey and he was out of the lead for the first time all day. A double-bogey on No. 15 doomed him.
There was a five-way tie for the leader at 12 under before Woods drained a birdie putt on No. 15 for his first solo lead of the tournament.
It already was an unprecedented day for this storied tournament. Because of stormy weather approaching, a decision was made Saturday for Sunday’s round to be played in threesomes and for golfers to start on the first and 10th holes.
That meant all the golfers began their rounds by 9:30 a.m. rather than mid-afternoon tee times for the leaders.
Patrick Cantlay continued his torrid weekend play. After Saturday’s 64 catapulted him into contention, he was 4-under in the final round through 11 holes and in a share of the lead briefly after an eagle on No. 15. He had bogeys on the next two holes and ended up with 68 — and 10 under for the tournament.
Bryson DeChambeau, who was a first-round co-leader but had since fallen off the pace, had a Sunday highlight with his first hole-in-one as a professional. Starting on the backside, he aced the par-3 16th hole. DeChambeau (70) finished tied for 29th at 4 under.
Defending champion Patrick Reed had his best round of this year’s tournament with a 69, but he ended up tied for 36th at 2 under.