By JOSEPH QUESADA
Golfing icon Tiger Woods reminded the world of his rightful place as one of the top golfers to ever play the game after completing an emotional, come-from-behind win at the 2019 PGA Masters Tournament on April 14. Woods, now 43, claimed his fifth ever Masters title after a long absence from the pro golfing spotlight that was due in part to health issues and a series of scandals.
Woods’s career began after a series of amatuer wins landed him a spot to compete in professional games and tournaments. His career took off in just his first season, with him winning Rookie of the Year and completing his first ever grand slam, which included wins at the Masters tournament, the PGA Open tournament, the US Open and the PGA Championship.
In June of 1997, Woods took over as the #1 ranked golfer in the world, a record that held for 264 consecutive weeks, according to SportingNews.com. By 2000, Woods had already secured five major titles and won a plethora of career awards, such as multiple PGA Player of the Year awards, an AP Male Athlete of the Year title and multiple Vardon Trophies, which recognize the leading scorer in the PGA that season. He also secured a huge $105,000,000 endorsement contract with Nike in just his fourth year as a pro.
Throughout the 2000’s, Tiger became the general face of pro golfing as he continued to win and amaze the golfing community with his impressive stats and achievements. Tiger became the only player in history to hold all four major PGA titles at once in 2001. He would also become the first player to win at least five pro events for five consecutive years. His consistent greatness throughout his early career was evident through countless wins and stats that no player had ever even come close to surpassing. In 2004, Tiger married Elin Nordegren, which would shape his personal life for years to come.
He enjoyed further success in golf for the next few years, but in 2007 Woods ruptured his ACL. This did not stop him for long as he went on to win five of his next six events, including the PGA Championship. By 2008 his problems with the ACL in his left knee required major reconstructive surgery that took him out from playing for eight months. His health problems began to have an obvious effect on his level of play as he stopped winning games at the level he did before.
According to USA Today, on Nov. 27, 2009, Woods crashed his car just outside of his Florida home, which raised questions surrounding his relationship with wife Elin. By December, stories and rumors came out suggesting that Tiger Woods was concealing a multiyear long affair with a waitress in Los Angeles. After admitting to his infidelities, Tiger faced a huge storm of backlash, and SportingNews.com reports that he lost most of his endorsements and a received a divorce from Elin in 2010. He fell out of the golf spotlight, and many began associating his name with the scandal rather than his greatness on the course.
Tiger reappeared into golf relevancy after winning his first tour game in 2012 since his slow departure from the sport a few years prior. Wood’s return was short lived as he dealt with back issues through most of the next few years. According to NBC News, in 2014, he had his first back surgery before having another operation done in 2015, and then again in 2016. His health problems limited his play, leaving him with no major wins and mediocre play throughout most of his tour games. By 2017, a second scandal came into Woods’ life when he was arrested in Florida for a DUI charge. Police reports indicated that five drugs were in Woods’ system at the time of the arrest, and that he was clearly intoxicated at the wheel and during the arrest process. He pleaded guilty to reckless driving and spent a short time in a rehabilitation program.
His integration back into play was slow, and, in the summer of 2018, Woods finished sixth at the British open and came in as runner-up in the PGA Championship. After four back surgeries, multiple knee surgeries, a divorce, a DUI charge and an overall fallout from his place in the golf world, many people speculated that his career was over and a comeback to the top would be unlikely. In September of 2018, Woods proved the masses wrong and grabbed his 80th PGA tour win at the Tour Championship. Just a year later, he went on to win his fifth Masters tournament, which came as his first major win in over 11 years.
Tiger Woods has been the face of pro golf since his prolific career began 23 years ago. Despite his fallout from the spotlight due to marital issues and health problems, he was able to make a complete comeback and secure his first major win after an 11 year absence. His career turn around is a testament to his greatness on the golf course and showcases just how talented he really is.