Photo provided (Pexels Stock)
Photo provided (Pexels Stock)

Professional golf is in a better place now that Tiger Woods is back.

We got a glimpse of his return in 2018, when he won the season-ending Tour Championship.

Remember that unbelievable crowd that followed him to the finish! 

Yes, a breathtaking atmosphere. Just numbing, if you will.

We got the full story, even a much clearer picture, on Sunday, when he came from three shots back to win his fifth Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.

And the crowd, oh that enormous, marvelous crowd. How could anyone watching that historic finish, one for the ages, and not get chills?
Those on social media were talking about it, and many were even going gaga over TIGER!

Tiger’s scintillating performance and victory was followed by hugs and tears, undoubtedly a lot of tears. 

First his caddy and then his mom and then his two kids, now older than when Tiger was winning his first 14 Majors, but now able to savor for the first time since they actually saw their dad win a Major.

And, of course, so many friends and well-wishers wanting hugs and to slap high fives as Tigers made his way through a stream of many other fans to the scoring tent to sign his card.

The last time I think I saw Tiger so jubilant was after his first Masters victory when he and his father embraced.

Sunday’s Masters Championship was his first Major title in 11 years….since 2008, and his first Green Jacket in 14 years. 

When the final putt dropped, Tiger leaned back, extended his arms and putter high, seemed to look up to heaven, and ROARED.

What a phenomenal day, the unbelievable atmosphere, the remarkable final four holes. The pressure, the tension. But through it all, Tiger Woods was so very calm, cool and collected, even when his par-4 putt on No. 18 rimmed the hole. Simply unflappable!

The golf gods surely are smiling, as is his dad, Earl, looking down from a golf course in the sky.

It also marked the first time he was able to come back and win a Major — now 15 Majors and hopefully counting — after trailing after 54 holes.
He was always at his best when leading. A tremendous closer, if you will.

Tiger started Sunday’s final round 2 shots back. He trailed by 3 strokes at one point. Birdies at par-5 No. 15 and par-3 No. 16, put him 2 shots ahead of the field. And, of course, he tapped in a short putt on the 72nd hole for a bogey.

His shot on No. 16 flirted with the hole, just rolling downhill past it. Can you imagine had that gone in for a hole-in-one, how that crowd would have erupted!

I barely left my chair from start to finish.

My eyes got a little wet in 2018 at the Tour Championship victory; I was a tad more teary-eyed on Sunday.

I’ve so marveled over Tiger’s talent through the years. I interviewed him when I was covering a lot of golf, and of course, one stop where our paths crossed was at the 2012 BMW Championship here t Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel.

I remember asking him how it felt to be the first $100,000 dollar pro golf, then quickly recovered, saying, “I mean since becoming the first $100 million man.’’ That was a tad embarrassing, but he just smiled and nodded his head.

I asked him if he thought he could repeat such a feat?

“Maybe,’’ he said, “If I can keep winning.’’

Isn’t it strange how things can change?

I mean, a few years ago, it seemed like Tiger Woods might never get back to the top in golf.

I know several folks who not only thought he would win never win another Major, they thought that he would never even win again.

Tiger now has won 81 official PGA Tour events, 8 more than Jack Nicklaus and trailing only Sam Snead by 1 win.

I’ve always said “Never say never . . . and never bet against Tiger.’’ Seriously!

My youngest son Matt (we were texting each other often during the Masters) said it was tough to see this coming . . .  but he said, If anyone could do it, it’s HIM and . . . maybe no one else.’’ 

Yep, that deserves an exclamation point!

Yes, and after so many professional and personal problems, and numerous surgeries (the past two on his back), he’s slim and trim and healthy and sending the Young Guns of Golf the message that he’s back. Many of those golfers — and there are so many talented golfers out there today — remember watching or maybe just hearing about his one-time dominance.

And Tiger proved he can still win when it counts!

I think it’s safe to say that Tiger can still play with and beat the best. And if they didn’t know it or believe it, they do now. Surely!

And, down deep, those other golfers unable to win on Sunday are probably happy to see Tiger in the winner’s circle.

This was GOOD for golf. 

I interviewed Justin Rose during Media Day prior to the 2012 FedEx Cup BMW Championship.

He told me the Tour players wanted to see Tiger back and competing on the PGA Tour on a regular basis again.

“He’s so good for golf. He brings the crowds and he’s had a lot to do with all of us being able to enjoy bigger paydays,’’ he said, standing outside the main entrance to the Crooked Stick. “Yes, we want him back with us . . . but we still want to beat him.”

Aww, yes, the crowds.

And his fifth green jacket (first one came in 1997, a record-setting 12-stroke victory) and No. 15 Major certainly rocked Augusta National . . . via a stroke of skillful talent and maybe even a stroke of magic!

The greatest comeback in all of sports?

Maybe. Arguably.

Certainly one of historic portions. 

Certainly one we’ll all remember and talk about for years to come! 

OK, I’ll say it: THE GREATEST COMEBACK that I can recall!

And you know, maybe the Golden Bear’s record 18 Majors don’t look quite as far away for Tiger, perhaps, as they once did.

Tiger’s Back! 

And his resurgence is a welcome sight for the PGA Tour members and all golfers, on and off the course!

-Mark Morrow, a Hall of Fame Indiana sportswriter, has resided in Hamilton County since 1989. You can follow him in The Times, and on Twitter at mmediamarko12. He can be reached at mediamarko5@gmail.com or by calling 317-460-8018.