Sport is not short of great personal comebacks but Tiger Woodss Masters victory on Sunday may overshadow them all, including Muhammad Ali, Niki Lauda and Monica Seles

In the springtime of 2014 Tiger Woods was at work on the compas around the back of his house, performing his short game like ever. Daylights earlier he had shot a 78 on the last day of the Cadillac Championship, the worst fourth-round score of their own lives. His back had been spasming but he felt he had to get out and employ. He stroked a bust shoot over a bunker and the minute he had finished the waver he fell out flat on his back, overcome with a hurting so serious that he could hardly breathe, let alone get back on his feet. He was out of hearing distance and he did not have his mobile phone on him, so there was nothing he could do but lie there and wait for someone to come.

It was his seven-year-old daughter, Sam, who found him.

“Daddy,” she said, what are you doing lying on the soil ?”

” Sam, thank goodness you’re here ,” he told her.” Can you go tell the guys inside to try to get the cart out to help me back up ?”

“What’s wrong?”

” My back’s not doing very good .”


” Yes again, Sam, can you please get get those guys ?”

There are an horrid heap of Groves fibs but this one, which is in the excellent biography Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian wrote last year, ever seemed one of the most revealing because it speaks to the pain he has suffered, the dishonour he has suffered and the way in which it has all been laid out for the rest of us to see. Here is Lumbers, the great athlete, helpless as an upturned imperfection; Lumbers, the proud champion, pleading with his kid to wreak someone who can get him back on his feet; Timbers, a being so intensely private that he used to refuse to tell people where he would be playing the very next month, having that helplessness picked over in minute item by beings like me in book and on TV.

Quick guide

Tiger Woods since winning his last major

Tiger Woods has acquired his fifth Masters title and first major in 11 years after victory in Augusta on Sunday.

It has been a long road back for the American, who has suffered innumerable injuries and off-course problems.


On November 27, 2009 reports emerged that Groves had been injured in a car accident near his Florida home after colliding with a fire hydrant and a tree. Over the next days and weeks the same reasons behind the accident became clearer, He said he had “let his family down” with “transgressions” and announcing an indefinite divulge from golf. He lost major patronizes including Gatorade and Gillette over his shows of multiple betrayals and he and his wife Elin Nordegren divorced.

Phoenix not rising

Woods , now determined to return to the pinnacle of golf following his self-imposed times in the wilderness, recorded the worst round of his profession in January 2015 as he shot an 11 -over-par 82 in Arizona. His second-round performance at the Waste Management Phoenix Open left him 13 over and final in a 132 -man field. Woods told reporters afterwards: “It’s golf, we all have dates like this.”

Don’t call it a comeback

In June 2016 he announced he was unable to compete at the US Open, the second largest major of the year, following two back operations in the space of six weeks. He terminated a 15 -month absence from the game in November but in January 2017 he missed the cut in his first PGA Tour event in almost 18 months, exiting the Farmers Insurance Open after finishing his first two rounds on four over par.

The master misses the Masters

The former macrocosm number 1 was unable to contest the 2017 Masters. The chance to compete at Augusta 20 times since he first won the green casing was denied to Woods who continued to suffer from nerve pain which had necessitated three actions in the seat of 19 months.

Under the force ?

In a throwback to his indiscretions of autumn 2009, in May 2017 Lumbers was arrested on skepticism of driving under the influence in the early hours of Memorial Day. He received a year of probation after alleging guilty to reckless driving and was ordered to undergo 50 hours of community service.

Victory again

In September 2018 Woods shot a one-over 71 for a two-shot victory at the Tour Championship in Atlanta – the 80 th win of his PGA Tour career and his first in more than five years.

Thank you for your feedback.

There are plenty more. One could talk about those first awful instants in 2009 when he crashed his SUV into a tree or the weeks after, when he shut over all the windows of his house with butcher’s newspaper to keep the paparazzi cameras out. Or the private lunch at a Beverly Hills Country Club in 2016 when he had to walk up a flight of stairs backwards because it was the only way he had been able to make it, or how, when he was arrested for driving under the influence in 2017, he could not even tell the police if he was in Florida or California, whether he was coming home or going from it.

On Monday morning the talk around Augusta and everywhere else they play golf was all about sweeter things, like how high this win figured among Woods’s 15 majors and exactly where it ranked among the great sporting comebacks. Now there is no easy answer to that because one has to stack up hundreds of different achievements across dozens of separate ages, which of course was precisely why everyone was chatting about it.

How do you appraise what Groves did here against, say, the way Niki Lauda finished runner-up in the F1 championship the same season he crashed at the Nurburgring? Lauda was back racing six weeks after he came out of coma. Or Mario Lemieux, who is heading the Pittsburgh Penguins to their first President’s Trophy in the very same season he finished his radiation management for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, while he had a back injury so severe he could not put on his own skates and virtually smash Wayne Gretzky’s scoring record while he was at it? How does it compare with Lester Piggott winning the Breeders’ Cup Mile at the age of 54, precisely 10 eras after he finished a year in prison for tax fraud? Or Monica Seles’s victory at the Australian Open in 1996, three years after she was stabbed in the back on court in Hamburg?

Injury and personal questions seemed to leave Tiger Woods a spent force by 2017. Photograph: Warren Little/ Getty Images

And all that is before one gets to the greatest of them all, Muhammad Ali, who triumphed back the heavyweight championship seven years after he was stripped of it and had his boxing licence suspended because he refused to be drafted to fight in Vietnam.

Woods was reluctant to claim it was even the best comeback in his own sport. He points to Ben Hogan, who won the US Open one and a half years after he practically died in a auto accident. Hogan was hit by an oncoming bus. He hurled himself across his wife’s lap to protect her from potential impacts and, while she was uninjured, he suffered material smash pelvis, collarbone, ankle and ribs. They mended again but he stood with blood clots for the rest of his life and had to have emergency surgery. He was told he would never walk again and then he went on to win another six majors.

Quick guide

Follow Guardian sport on social media

Twitter : follow us at @guardian_sport Facebook : like our football and sport pages Instagram : our favourite photos, films and stories YouTube : expressed support for our football and sport channels

Photograph: Chesnot/ Getty Images Europe
Thank you for your feedback.

And yet, for all that, one can say this much: Woods’s tale is unique in one important mode, unlike all those others, in that he did not suffer physically or personally but physically and personally. He has been tormented in body and soul, his mas transgressed, his back smashed and fused back together again, his reputation shredded and the bits and pieces strewn out for the rest of us to pick over. And here he was, treading off that 18 th light-green, Masters champion, with their own families around him, having make everything is back together again.

” You never give up ,” says Lumbers.” That’s a caused. You always fight. Only giving up’s never in the equation .”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here