This, without a doubt was the hardest I have thought about sports in a very long time. There were SO MANY good choices that could have won this award, each in their own separate category of greatness and accomplishment.
Jimmie Johnson winning his seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Title, Casey O’Brien taking his first snap at Minnesota after beating cancer four times, Bubba ‘I never took a golf lesson’ Watson winning the Masters with a 140 yard snap hook with a 52 degree, the St. Louis Cardinals miraculously winning the 2011 World Series being down to their last strike twice, the Cleveland Cavaliers becoming the first team in NBA history to win the Finals down 3-1 in the series, the Cubs winning the world series for the first time in 108 years, Leicester City winning the Premier League at 5000/1 odds, just to name a few.
But there was one moment that stood out above all: Tiger Woods roaring back and winning the 2019 Masters Tournament.
Heading into Masters week I kept texting my friend Nick that, “Tiger is going to do it!” More optimistic than realistic, if I am being honest. Never in my wildest dreams, did I think heading into Sunday, that Tiger would be two shots back of the lead and in the final threesome on Sunday.
With the early tee times, it was one of the first Saturday nights that I didn’t go out, went to bed early so that I could watch Tiger, maybe, just maybe, pull it off and win the Masters.
After a huge birdie putt on 8, and a sixty five foot two putt on 9, Tiger was still in contention heading into Amen Corner.
On the tee at 12, the group in front of the final pairing was on the tee, all still in contention to get out of Amen Corner with the lead. Then, the unthinkable happened: Ian Poulter dunked it in the water on 12, Koepka and Webb Simpson both dunked it in the water as well.
Mollinari, who was in the lead at the time, had a good long time looking at the group in front of the final threesome, seeing all of them dunk their approach shots in the water.
Tony Finau, who was tied for second at the time with Tiger, went first, and dunked his shot into the water.
Mollinari, who had just seen four people put their tee shots into the water, was up. And Mollinari, you guessed it, put his tee shot into the water.
Tiger Woods, eight iron in hand, played it safe and put it over the two bunkers, giving himself a two putt to save par. Out of all the true contenders to win the Masters, Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson were the only two to get out the 12th hole with a par.
After Mollinari hit a pine cone on his approach on 15, Tiger made a birdie putt to take the lead on 15.
Then, the moment of the tournament happened on the tee box at 16:
I have had very few moments in my life where sports have felt more like a religious experience to me than a sporting event, Tiger’s tee shot on 16 was one of those rare moments.
After a par on 17, all Tiger needed was a bogey on 18 to win the Masters. Tiger found the fairway with his three wood on 18, laid up, hit a brilliant approach using the back stop on the 18th green to bring the ball back to the hole.
And then, after never thinking I would ever see it again: the return to glory happened:
To any male around my age (23), this was special. There is probably a good chance that grew up just like I did, watching Tiger Woods on Sundays with your Dad sitting in the living room. My Dad would take me out after PGA events and take me to my local golf course, and I would try to emulate what I just saw Tiger do on TV. I would even wear red t-shirts to the golf course, just like my idol Tiger. I wanted to be Tiger Woods in the worst way possible. And to see that man I idolized, be dragged through the mud by every media company, every person, it was something that went that final putt went in, hit me in a way that no sports moment has ever hit me before.
And for my one friend Ian who’s father passed away a couple months earlier, it meant the world to him as well:
When that final putt went in, I jumped off my seat and it had tears in my eyes.
To see a man I loved watching on Sundays with my Dad as a kid, fuck his life up so much, and still claw his way back and become a champion again after all the personal adversity he had been through, had me in tears.
To pull up a comment I saw from YouTube:
“Golf fan or not, this is the ultimate in human perseverance. Through tough times, self inflicted or otherwise, we’ve all in some way been through what he’s been through. And to find that self belief that you can still rise up from your personal adversity and succeed once more…well, Tiger’s accomplishment transcends all sport.”
And to say a quote that I have said my entire life:
“We should never judge people off of their worst decisions and actions, rather, we should judge people off of their ability to change from their worst decisions and actions.”
Thank you Tiger, for helping me relive my childhood. Thank you for showing us all, that we can climb back up from our personal hells (self inflicted or not.)
And Nick Faldo, you were wrong. You were so wrong. You said that after seeing Tiger hug his son Charlie that, “that will be the greatest scene in golf forever, Jim Nantz.”
Sir Nick, it isn’t going to be the greatest scene in golf forever, it may be the greatest scene in sports, forever.