The day Tiger Woods won the 2019 Masters: Golf journalists reflect on history
Tiger Woods: Back! Watch the premiere on our new Sky Documentaries channel, Friday at 9pm
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 04/06/20 4:28pm
Ahead of Friday's premiere of 'Tiger Woods: Back' on Sky Documentaries, we asked a group of British journalists to reflect on their experience of being at Augusta on such a historic day.
Woods defied the doubters and, almost 11 years after lifting the US Open trophy in 2008, he roared to his 15th major title, and his fifth Green Jacket, on a memorable Sunday in Georgia.
There were many who felt that a 43-year-old with an ailing back could never again reach such heights, but Woods stunned the sporting world and dominated the front and back pages of international newspapers for all the right reasons.
Here's the view from those fortunate to have been in the press centre on April 14, 2019...
James Corrigan, Daily Telegraph
This was the 62nd major I'd covered and it was the most memorable by a very distant par five.
On the eve of the first round I was in an Augusta bar and this American golf fan laid out 10 reasons to me why Tiger would definitely win. By about the fifth - "the rest will s*** themselves when they see his name on an Augusta leaderboard" - I had revised my original option that it was, at best, an unlikely scenario.
By the Saturday night, when Sir Nick Faldo was on American TV saying that he believed Woods would win, I was utterly convinced. Francesco Molinari was playing wonderfully, but I recalled what that chap in the pub had said and figured the collapse would, as always, happen on that wondrous back nine.
The atmosphere was eerie in those concluding hours, almost like it was in slow motion. After the 12th it became obvious that something very special was unfolding. It was one of those occasions as a writer when you want to do it justice and you actually feel the pressure on your own performance as well.
That's the Tiger effect, right there. It was definitely the story of my golf-writing generation.
When work was done that Sunday night, I went back to the same establishment and the Tiger supporter was at his usual berth at the bar. "I never truly believed Tiger would do it," he told me. "I was trying to persuade myself as much as you."
John Hopkins, The Times
"History has often been made here in Georgia" was the opening sentence of my report in The Times on Tuesday 15 April 1997 beneath the banner headline: "Golf wakes to dawn of the Tiger era."
Having covered the triumphs and vicissitudes of Tiger Woods' career ever since, I should have known what was coming on Sunday April 14th 2019. I should have known that if there was one place where he might summon another mighty performance, it would be Augusta.
As events unfolded on that Sunday, with competitors playing in threes because of the threat of a late afternoon storm, I found myself thinking: "He couldn't do it again, could he? A 15th major championship at the place where, 22 years earlier, he had won his first? That would be symmetrical."
He could and he did. It was a stunning performance, unbelievably emotional, completely unforgettable. Would it be the coping stone to his career? Say that at your peril. Who knows?
With Woods, you certainly don't know.
Mike McEwan, Bunkered Online
Watching Tiger Woods win golf tournaments has always been special. But watching Tiger Woods win The Masters on your first visit to Augusta National, improbably ending an 11-year winless drought in the majors in the process? I'm not sure it gets any better.
The first sense I got that something special was brewing was on the 10th tee during Saturday's third round. I was standing off to the left as Woods and Ian Poulter came through. Woods' body language was different somehow. He looked completely assured, almost as though he knew what the outcome of his week's work would be.
The 67 he carded that day - his lowest round at Augusta for eight years - vaulted him into contention, and there was an electricity in the air that night that had little to do with the advancing thunderstorms.
The final round was like Masters tournaments of old; birdies, roars, the lead swapping hands multiple times, a tradition unlike any other, some would say. But as soon as his ball stayed dry at 12, whilst playing partners Francesco Molinari and Tony Finau rinsed theirs in Rae's Creek, I was convinced that this was going to be Tiger's day. And so it proved.
The scenes when he won were unlike anything else I've ever witnessed. Grown men were moved to tears in the media centre. The 'no cheering in the press box' rule was definitely broken. Contrary to what some people believe, sportswriters are fans, too.
The report I wrote for our website that night was one of the most difficult stories I've ever written. It was hard to find the words to articulate how significant that day was. It still is. It was, in many ways, golf's moon landing; a feat so outrageously improbable that to even suggest it could happen was to invite derision.
But as Muhammad Ali once said: "A man who has no imagination has no wings." Woods flew that week. What a thrill it was to be there for the ride.
Martin Dempster, The Scotsman
I'll not lie. I never thought I'd see Tiger Woods back winning a major. I'd lost count of how many times I'd written that.
Just seeing him back playing again was something that had become a serious doubt. Thank goodness, he did return after the fourth back operation of his career. Thank goodness, he got back to winning ways in the Tour Championship in 2018. Thank goodness, he is indeed a major champion again.
Humble pie has never tasted so good!
Watching Tiger pull off one of the greatest comebacks in sport will forever be etched in my memory, as will that joyous roar after clinching victory and the huge hugs with his mum and kids behind the 18th green.
Woods himself has acknowledged that as having been remarkable, but, for those who chanted "Tiger, Tiger, Tiger" as he left the 18th green on Sunday, this is the ultimate sporting comeback and, I for one, agree.
It was a privilege to cover it.
Watch Tiger Woods: Back on Sky Documentaries this Friday at 9pm