Tiger Woods (278476)
Credit: Contributed

As he stood over a short two-foot putt on the afternoon of Sunday, April 14, on the 18th green at Augusta National Gold Club in Augusta, Georgia, Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods, one of the most famous global figures of the past three decades, was about to come full circle.

Comparable to Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and Michael Jordan, Woods transcends sports. His dominance as an athlete is only one element—albeit the foundation—of his celebrity. While Woods’ stature grew as an all-time great golfer as he captured tournament after tournament on perfectly manicured swaths of land, he lived life in a fishbowl and became a constant in gossip columns, TMZ reports and hard news stories as his life began to spiral out of control.

From 1997 to 2013, when he last won the prestigious PGA Player of the Year award and was the PGA Tour’s leading money winner, Woods was without peer as a golfer. He enjoyed enormous wealth and immense popularity, moving television ratings and Nike apparel at near unprecedented levels. But marital infidelity, addiction to prescription pain killers and debilitating back injuries took him to the deepest, darkest parts of his being.

Living in emotional and physical pain, Woods, along with virtually everyone who followed his illustrious career, doubted he would ever win another tournament—or even play competitively again—after he underwent spinal fusion surgery in April 2017.

So as he tapped the ball into the hole to win his fifth Masters title with his mother Kultida, daughter Sam and son Charlie watching close by, Woods unleashed unbridled joy in achieving one of the most remarkable and unlikely resurrections in sports history one week before Easter Sunday.

Shooting a -13, Woods held off Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele to win by one stroke after entering the final round trailing then leader Francesco Molinari by two strokes. It was his first victory at one of golf’s four major tournaments since capturing the U.S. Open in 2008 and his first victory at the Masters in 15 years.

It was there in 1997 when the 21-year-old Woods announced himself as the next great American sports icon when he obliterated the field with a Masters record 18-under-par 270 to become its youngest ever champion. Now, at 43, his 15 majors are second all-time to the legendary Jack Nicklaus.

“Just unreal, to be honest with you,’’ Woods said. “Just the whole tournament has meant so much to me over the years… Coming here in ‘95 for the first time and being able to play as an amateur. And just the way it all transpired today…

“…There were so many guys who had a chance to win. Leaderboard was absolutely packed, and everyone was playing well. You couldn’t have had more drama than we all had out there, and now I know why I’m balding,” Woods joked.

“This has meant so much to me and my family, this tournament and to have everyone here, it’s something I’ll never, ever forget.’’ Neither will those who watched Woods write another chapter in one of the most remarkable sports afternoons in recent memory.