That’s all Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods needed to say after the famous Green Jacket was placed on the 43-year-old’s shoulders. At the Augusta National Golf Club, Tiger Woods celebrated his fifth Masters Tournament win to bring his career total to 15 major championships. An 11-year gap between major wins was filled with a public divorce due to wide-spread infidelity, four different back surgeries, and the physical collapse of the most influential athlete of our time.
No one changed a sport like Tiger Woods changed golf. When Tiger turned pro in August 1996 at 20 years old, the sport changed forever. He was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year and the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year in ’96 and never looked back. The current generation of golf stars like Jordan Spieth, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, Ricky Fowler and Justin Thomas rose to prominence in the wake of Tiger’s collapse.
Tiger beat them all to win the 2019 Masters and reclaim his throne as the best player in the world.
Tiger’s chase to surpass Jack Nicklaus‘ record of 18 major championships is officially back on, and everyone who doubted the kid from Cypress, California apparently forgot that he’s the greatest champion in American sports history.
In all honesty, none of this should be a surprise. Tiger Woods was born to be a golfer. The child prodigy was groomed by his father, Earl Woods, from the time he could hold the custom-cut putter Earl first made for Tiger when he was 11 months old. Tiger’s now-famous appearance on The Mike Douglas Show when he was hitting golf balls at 3 years old with comedian Bob Hope was his first introduction to the world, but it certainly wasn’t his last.
Just a few years later, young Tiger was already developing a reputation as a true prodigy. In The Wicked Game, a book by Howard Sounes, he points out that Tiger first broke a score of 80 when was eight years old. For comparison, there were five rounds played by professional men at the 2019 Masters that did not break 80…
This video of Tiger on the ABC television show That’s Incredible! when he was only five is all you need to know about his impending greatness. Sitting with Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback and the show’s co-host Fran Tarkenton, footage of Tiger playing as a kid is half “awe, that’s cute as hell” and half “holy shit, that kid chips better than I can.”
“Some of the things that he does, you would see on one of the finest players in the world. His depth perception, the ability to hit the ball pin-high up to the flag, his judgement on distance, and putting is really, really acute. You have a hard time beating him around the greens, no matter who you are.
“It’s like he has an awareness on the golf course of what he’s doing. His ability to put together a series of shots for long periods of time is what enables somebody to either be a good player or a great player. And Tiger’s ability to get it going and keep it going for extended periods of time is remarkable.”
— Golf professional Rudy Garland on 5-year-old Tiger Woods
Back when he was still learning the ABCs and finger painting Thanksgiving turkeys in kindergarten, Tiger was already a better golfer than any of us will ever be.
Tiger Woods is the greatest champion of our time. He’s completed his comeback from a career-threatening injury and rallied everyone in the sports world behind him once again with his 15th major title. As he chases the all-time record, just remember that Tiger didn’t get to where he is based on talent alone. He’s worked to perfect this craft throughout his entire life.
The remaining majors this year begin on May 16 at the PGA Championship, followed by the U.S. Open golf tournament in Pebble Beach, California on June 13, and The Open Championship at the Royal Portrush Golf Club in July.