From the top to the bottom to the top again
Everyone loves the comeback story, and this past Sunday may have seen one of the biggest in sports history. Tiger Woods won the Masters Tournament 14 years after his last time wearing the green jacket.
However, it has been a long journey for Woods, and the past decade saw some of his lowest points. A man with his whole life spent in the spotlight, many have watched Tiger’s rise to fame, his fall from glory and now his return.
It all started when a 3-year-old Tiger appeared on the “The Mike Douglas Show,” golfing in front of a national audience. From there he went on to the Optimist International Junior World Golf Championships at just 9 years old. He would win the tournament six more times before graduating high school.
He then went to Stanford University for a short time during which he participated in his first Masters Tournament. After winning the NCAA Individuals Championship, he dropped out of college to become a pro golfer.
In 1997, Tiger got his first endorsement deals: $40 million from Nike and $20 million from Titleist. After several PGA tournament wins, in 1997 Tiger won his first Masters Tournament at just 21 years old, the youngest in history.
In 1998, Tiger achieved the No. 1 ranking in the world. After racking up many more PGA wins, he won two more Masters in 2001 and 2002.
Then in 2004, Woods married Elin Nordegren. The following year, he won his fourth Masters, becoming just the third player to do so in history. Tiger was quickly becoming one of the greatest golfers of all time, but things began to go downhill for the champ.
In May 2006, after 48 PGA wins, Tiger lost his father, Earl Woods, to cancer. In 2007, he ruptured his ACL. The following year saw him undergo extensive knee surgery, as well as a tearing of his right Achilles and a stress fracture in his tibia.
Woods continued to play and push through his injuries, but then in 2009, claims that he was having an affair surfaced. A couple weeks later, Woods was in a car accident near his Florida home. The incident was followed by more women accusing him of affairs, and the loss of several endorsement deals.
In 2010, after 144 days off from professional golf, Tiger took fourth in the Masters. That August, he divorced his wife, paying nearly $750 million in the settlement.
In 2011, after another fourth-place finish in the Masters, Woods sprained his MCL and left Achilles. He proceeded to fire his long-time caddy and fell to No. 58 in the world.
While 2012 and 2013 saw a rise back to No. 1 and several PGA wins, Woods fell back into dismay in 2014. In a three-year span, Tiger underwent four separate back surgeries and was unable to participate in professional golf, causing him to drop out of the top 500 in the world.
Then just 11 months after his final surgery, Tiger tied for second in the Valspar Championship, his first top-five placement since 2013. Then on Sept. 23, 2018, he got his 80th career win.
That brings us to Sunday, April 14, 2019, the final day of the 2019 Masters Tournament, a moment in history. Sporting his iconic “Sunday Red” shirt, Tiger Woods at a two-stroke deficit rallied in the final holes to come back and win his fifth Masters.
Now that is a comeback story.