Sport is not short of great personal comebacks but Tiger Woodss Masters victory on Sunday may eclipse them all, including Muhammad Ali, Niki Lauda and Monica Seles
n the spring of 2014 I Tiger Woods was at work on the wander around the back of his house, performing his short game like ever. Dates earlier he had shot a 78 on the final day of the Cadillac Championship, the worst fourth-round score of his life. 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 instant he had finished the waver he fell down flat on his back, overcome with a tendernes so severe that he could hardly breathe, let alone get back on his foot. 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 informed her.” Can you go tell the people inside to try to get the cart out to help me back up ?”
” My back’s not doing very good .”
” Yes again, Sam, can you please depart get those guys ?”
There are an horrendous spate of Woods storeys but this one, which is in the
excellent biography Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian published last year, ever seemed one of the most revealing because it speaks to the pain he has accepted, 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 Woods, the great athlete, helpless as an upturned defect; Lumbers, the proud endorse, pleading with his kid to create someone who can get him back on his paw; Groves, a soul 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 hour item by parties like me in print and on TV.
Tiger Woods has won his fifth Masters title and first major in 11 times after win 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 became apparent that Groves had been injured in a car accident near his Florida home after crashing with a fire hydrant and a tree. Over the next days and weeks the reasons behind the accident became clearer, He said he had “let his family down” with “transgressions” and announcing an indefinite smash 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 years in the wilderness, recorded the worst round of his busines in January 2015 as he hit an 11 -over-par 82 in Arizona. His second-round performance at the Waste Management Phoenix Open left him 13 over and last in a 132 -man field. Woods told reporters afterwards: “It’s golf, we all have epoches 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 its first year, following two back operations in the seat of six weeks. He objective a 15 -month absence from the game in November but in January 2017 he missed the cut in his first PGA Tour event in nearly 18 months, exiting the Farmers Insurance Open after finishing his first two rounds on four over par.
The master misses the Masters
The former world-wide number 1 was unable to contest the 2017 Masters. The chance to compete at Augusta 20 years since he first won the light-green coat was denied to Woods who continued to suffer from nerve pain which had necessitated three operations in the opening of 19 months.
Under the force ?
In a throwback to his indiscretions of autumn 2009, in May 2017 Groves was arrested on notion 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.
In September 2018 Woods shot a one-over 71 for a two-shot victory at the Tour Championship in Atlanta – the 80 th victory of his PGA Tour career and his first in more than five years.
There are plenty more. One could talk about those first horrid instants in 2009 where reference is gate-crashed his SUV into a tree or the weeks after, where reference is sealed over all the windows of his house with butcher’s paper to keep the paparazzi cameras out. Or the private luncheon 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 could 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-pitched this succes figured among Woods’s 15 majors and exactly where it ranked among the great sporting comebacks. Now it is not possible to easy provide answers to that because one has to stack up hundreds of different achievements across dozens of separate epoches, which of course was precisely why everyone was chatting about it.
How do you measure what Groves did here against, say, the path Niki Lauda finished runner-up in the F1 championship the same season he gate-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 firstly President’s Trophy in the very same season he finished his radiation treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, while he had a back injury so severe he could not put on his own skates and nearly stony-broke 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, exactly 10 dates 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 jabbed in the back on court in Hamburg?
Injury and personal difficulties 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 won 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 athletic. He points to Ben Hogan, who won the US Open a year and a half after he nearly been killed in a vehicle accident. Hogan was hit by an oncoming bus. He threw himself across his wife’s lap to protect her from the effects and, while she was uninjured, he suffered material crack pelvis, collarbone, ankle and ribs. They ameliorated again but he suffered 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.
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Photograph: Chesnot/ Getty Images Europe
And hitherto, for all that, one can say this much: Woods’s narrative is unique in one important route, unlike all those others, in that he did not suffer physically
or personally but physically and personally. He has been tormented in person and soul, his organization break-dance, his back shattered 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, moving off that 18 th light-green, Masters champion, with his family around him, having give everything there is back together again.
” You never give up ,” says Timbers.” That’s a generated. You ever campaigned. Just giving up’s never in the equation .”