At approximately 2:27pm yesterday, the world shook.
In most cases, saying that the earth shook from something that happened in sports would be considered radical hyperbole, but Tiger Woods winning the 2019 Masters is above all hyperbole. One of the greatest athletes of ours or any generation ascended back to the top of the world from depths that no mere mortal ever could have.
With yesterday’s win, Tiger snapped a streak of 11-years without a major championship. One of the greatest quests in all of sports was Tiger’s run at besting Jack Nicklaus’s 18 majors, but once Woods stalled after his 14th, all hope and possibility seemed lost.
The story of Tiger Woods career was written: won 3 US Amateur championships in a row, youngest Masters champion, winner of 14 majors and had his career derailed because of serial infidelity and after a car accident on Thanksgiving night 2009, he was never the same again. That was the cliff notes version of the Tiger Woods story and it’s not far from the truth, although it fails to take into account the real reason for Tiger’s down turn which was chronic back and knee problems. But why let the truth get in the way of a perfectly easy narrative to understand.
Tiger’s career couldn’t be called a failure, it just felt unfinished and people who have watched Tiger for so long felt disappointed that a career that seemed destined to produce 19 or 20 majors would seemingly never get there. The more time that passed, the less likely it seemed that Tiger Woods, even at age 43 would ever win just one more major.
But there was Jack. Jack turned back the clock one last time in 1986 and at 46 years old, got white hot on the back 9 at Augusta and won the Green Jacket again. It was Jack that Tiger was chasing and it was Jack that gave us hope that Tiger could possibly get hot for four days and sneak one more major championship.
It’s rare that a great athlete gets a second act to their career, but right now we are seeing two of them. Tom Brady and Tiger Woods have this in common. Tom Brady won 3 Super Bowls in his first 4 years as a starter and then didn’t hoist another Lombardi trophy for 10 years. Most quarterbacks don’t last long enough to play 14 years in the league, let alone have the level of play to lead a Super Bowl team.
The longevity of Woods and Brady is incredible: Brady won his first Super Bowl 17-years ago and Woods won his first Masters 22-years ago. At ages 41 and 43 respectively, the fact that they are both still on top of their games is truly unbelievable. It’s not supposed to happen like this, only because it hasn’t before. You get one prime and that’s it, that’s the deal with talent. A mountain has one peak and so does a superstar’s career.
There is no drama like sports. After reading Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian’s book about Woods and then watching his victory on Sunday, I firmly believe that Hollywood couldn’t script a drama as good as the one we’ve witnessed over the last quarter century starring Tiger Woods. On the day that Game of Thrones made its return to television, it was Tiger Woods who provided greater drama than HBO could ever produce.