Woods’ fifth win at the Masters—his first came in 1997 in what was a historic victory—was as inspirational as it was surreal. Coming into the tournament, it was nearly 11 years since he had won his last major title. Personal issues and debilitating injuries had Woods and most followers of golf resigned to the seeming reality that his professional career was essentially over.
“Just unreal, to be honest with you,’’ said Woods after his improbable win at the Masters. “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. Winning in ’97 and then come full circle 22 years later, to be able to do it again. And just the way it all transpired today.
“…I had serious doubts after what transpired a couple years ago,’’ he said. “I could barely walk. I couldn’t sit. Couldn’t lay down. I really couldn’t do much of anything. Luckily, I had the procedure on my back, which gave me a chance of having a normal life. But then all of a sudden, I realized I could actually swing a golf club again.”
Now, when he tees off today in the 101st PGA Championship on the course known as Bethpage Black, located at Bethpage Page State Park in Farmingdale, New York (Long Island), few would be shocked if Woods is at or near the top of leaderboard late in the final round Sunday. It is a tournament he has captured four times, the last in 2007, as his 15 overall major victories are second most all-time to Jack Nicklaus’ 18.