Tiger Woods is preparing to make his latest playing return at the venue he is more synonymous with than any other, so what can we expect? 

May 30, 2024

It’s five years since Tiger Woods shocked the world by winning The Masters. We revisit his iconic win in 2019 with a selection of his best shots from the week.

It was the day that few people apart from perhaps the man himself truly thought they would see again – Tiger Woods winning another major, at The Masters in 2019.

In iconic images that sit alongside those from his maiden Augusta triumph as a 21-year-old in 1997 and that chip on the 16th hole on the way to winning his fourth Green Jacket eight years later, Woods’ emotional celebrations and those of the patrons watching on as he holed out on the 18th green on the Sunday have gone down in golfing legend as Tiger brought his 11-year major drought to an end in the most spectacular and unexpected manner.

So as the now-48-year-old prepares to tee it up for Augusta for the 26th time in his rollercoaster career live on Sky Sports Golf from Thursday in what is set to be his first tournament appearance since withdrawing from February’s Genesis Invitational, we take a look back at how things have gone for Tiger since that unforgettable Spring weekend in 2019…

Much in the golfing world, and indeed Woods’ life, changed between the winning of his 14th major title at the 2008 US Open and that emotional, against-the-odds, 15th triumph at Augusta.

A succession of injuries led to a succession of surgeries – most notably on his back and ankle – and repeat spells on the sidelines. Amid all of that were the tumultuous events in Woods’ private life that first became public at the end of 2009, and which saw him take an indefinite leave of absence from the game.

While there were certainly periods after that turmoil when Woods offered fans and admirers hope that his chase of Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major titles was not prematurely run – most notably in 2012-13 when he won eight PGA Tour tournaments and returned to world No 1 after his first fall down the rankings – his prospects soon took an injury hit again.

Further layoffs and eventually a fourth back operation in April 2017 – spinal fusion surgery – led to serious questions about whether Woods, by now already in his 40s, would ever compete at the top of the game again, let alone contend for the major prizes.

Following his win at the Masters, we look back at every celebration from all 81 of Tiger Woods’ PGA Tour titles.

So that made what followed all the more remarkable.

After missing nearly the whole of the 2017 season amid his latest period of injury rehabilitation, a rejuvenated Woods played in 18 events in 2018 and finished two shots behind Brooks Koepka after a final-round 64 at the PGA Championship at Bellerive to suggest that just maybe his major race was not quite run after all.

A month later he then finished that season by ending what had become a five-year title drought at the season-closing Tour Championship.

Then came 2019 and the second week of April at the venue where Woods has always tended to save something just a little bit special.

From his 1997 Masters victory to claiming his 15th major title in 2019, we look back at the best moments from Tiger Woods’ five wins at Augusta National.

Matching his first round of two-under-par 70 from his breakthrough triumph some 22 years earlier, Woods truly moved into contention for a fifth Green Jacket on day two with a 68 to end the second day just one back on a group of players tied at seven under.

A third-round 67 then left him two shots back on Francesco Molinari.

We look back on the key moments of Tiger Woods’ final round at the Masters which earned him his fifth Green Jacket.

That deficit became three shots early in the final round, but Woods rolled in an eight-footer at the third and recovered from back-to-back bogeys from the fourth to make a tap-in birdie at the seventh and pick up a shot at the par-five next.

Woods missed the 10th green on his way to beginning the back nine with a bogey, although found himself in a share of the advantage when Molinari found water off the 12th tee and double-bogeyed.

The former world No 1 moved ahead with two-putt birdies at the 13th and 15th and gave himself a two-shot cushion after almost holing his tee shot at the par-three 16th. He ultimately finished on the 18th with a bogey but he had earned himself the cushion for that as he rolled the winning putt in.

With pandemonium behind the ropes, Woods initially marked the moment of triumph with a restrained fist-pump before more uncharacteristically letting his emotions go by flinging both of his arms in the air. He was then able to celebrate the moment with his children, who had been watching on.

“To have my kids there, it’s come full circle,” said Woods. “My dad was here in 1997 and now I’m the dad with two kids there,” Woods said in the immediate aftermath of his win.

“It will be up there with one of the hardest I’ve had to win because of what has transpired in the last couple of years.”

So what would follow the stunning achievement that made headlines around the world and which some dubbed the ‘greatest comeback in sport’?

Five years on and Woods, who turned 48 in December, has played in only 22 official tournaments since, winning once – the Zozo Championship in Japan, six months on from the Masters – although that solitary subsequent triumph was notable in itself given it represented a record-equalling 82nd tournament success for him on the PGA Tour.

Ahead of this week’s Zozo Championship, relive Tiger Woods’ win back in 2019, which saw the 15-time major champion equal Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour victories.

In truth, much of what has followed has been framed by Woods’ car crash in Los Angeles in February 2021 in which he sustained serious leg and ankle injuries that could have cost him much more than the twilight years of his golfing career.

Indeed as Woods remarked when he spoke for the first time about the scale of his injuries and the difficulty of the rehabilitation, which included a three-month stay in hospital, in November 2021: “I’m lucky to be alive but also still have the limb. Those are two crucial things.

“I’m very grateful that someone upstairs was taking care of me, that I’m able to not only be here but also to walk without a prosthesis.”

Aerial footage of Woods’ accident shows a car on its side with the front end heavily damaged, airbags appeared to be deployed and the wreckage appeared to be just off the side of a road on a hillside.

Yet, despite the huge challengers, there was another comeback.

That came 10 months later in the December at the PNC Championship when Woods returned, playing alongside his son Charlie.

His official return to competition came, inevitably, at the following year’s Masters. In the circumstances, a one-under 71 marked an hugely-impressive opening round, although the physical challenges Woods now faced on the course were clear and absolutely underlined by the three days that followed.

A second-round 74 meant he made the cut but the weekend gave way to back-to-back 78s, his worst-ever rounds at Augusta.

Tiger Woods currently lies bottom of the Masters leaderboard after finding the water twice on the rain-soaked course at Augusta.

Still, simply completing all four days of play was a victory of sorts and something which did not subsequently prove the case at his only other two appearances of 2022.

At the PGA Championship he withdrew at the end of the third round after struggling to a nine-over 79, while he did not even make the cut on his return to St Andrews for The Open.

And so to 2023 where, after finishing tied 45th at February’s Genesis Invitational, he withdrew from last year’s Masters amid weather delays after aggravating his plantar fasciitis. He had been nine-over through seven holes of his third round at the time.

Yet another operation, fusion surgery on his right ankle, followed in the summer.

“The first goal is to recover and lead a much more enjoyable day-to-day life, said Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg after news of the successful surgery was made public last August.

Tiger Woods was back in action for the pre-tournament pro-am ahead of the PNC Championship, where he also provided an update on when he sees himself returning to the PGA Tour.

But last year at least finished on a more optimistic note with full playing appearances at his own Hero World Challenge Bahamas and then at the PNC Championship, once more alongside teenage son Charlie, as he indicated he would like to play one tournament a month going forward.

“Once a month seems reasonable,” said Woods.

“It gives me a couple of weeks to recover and a week to tune up. Maybe I can get into the rhythm.”

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Tiger Woods makes a brilliant start to his return at Genesis Invitational at Riviera, with a birdie on the par-five first.

So far that one-tournament-a-month target has worked out as one partial tournament in the first three months of 2024.

Woods began his season as scheduled at the Genesis Invitational in California he hosts in mid-February but his participation on the course ended seven holes into his second round when he pulled out having battled on through the effects of the ‘flu.

The prestigious Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Players then came and went in March without a Woods return leaving Augusta, not for the first time, as the place Tiger was clearly targeting for another return.

Appearing on Fore Play Golf, Tiger Woods stunned his competitors by winning a long drive contest with a drive from his knees! Watch the full video here

So on to the inevitable question: just how will be perform this week with so little tournament play under his belt?

While the past five years alone have shown that writing off Tiger Woods is unwise in the extreme, the fact is that his limited playing schedule over the past three years means that simply completing all four rounds this weekend and being able to play relatively pain-free is going to be a commendable achievement alone.

Sky Sports reporter Jamie Weir explains what will be a success for Tiger Woods after his confirmation of play considering his current state.

Speaking on the latest Sky Sports Golf podcast, three-time Masters winner Sir Nick Faldo spoke of his admiration of Woods’ determination and persistence to simply keep playing so late into his career.

“Obviously, you have to admire his mental strength to keep going; you know, he wants to get back out there, you know, last year, he was in a real mess, wasn’t he? It’s a physical battle. Many people just think oh yeah, you just get your foot severed off, sow it back on and off you go again. I don’t think that happens in life, does it?

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Tiger Woods withdraws from the Genesis Invitational shortly after his tee shot on the 7th hole during the second round of his PGA Tour comeback.

“He’s done unbelievably well to come back and be giving it a go, but I personally I think that physically, even if he was mega fit and everything and none of this, you know, he’s just turned 48, if we’re talking about getting old in golf and not performing and then he plays twice a year, that’s very difficult to tee it up again.

“I don’t think that Tiger will give in, I don’t know when he will give in. Many many other men would give in.”

Even if a sixth Green Jacket to tie Nicklaus may be, at least for now, beyond a man who has already conjured up a few sporting fairytales in his career, there is at least one more piece of Augusta history conceivably in Woods’ grasp this week.

Having made every weekend at Augusta since his one and only missed cut on his second appearance in 1996, Woods can move out on his own beyond Fred Couples and Gary Player on 24 consecutive cuts made by the end of Friday’s play.

That in itself would be testament to the enduring legacy of the golf’s continued biggest name and draw.

Wall-to-wall coverage from the tournament begins at 2pm over the first two rounds on Thursday April 11 and Friday April 12, with Featured Group action and regular updates from around the course available to enjoy on Sky Sports Golf until the global broadcast window begins at 8pm.

There will be lots of extra action throughout all four days via the red button on Sky Sports Golf, along with Sky Q and Sky Glass, providing plenty of bonus feeds and allowing you to follow players’ progress through various parts of Augusta’s famous layout.

The Masters is upon us and you can watch all the tremendous action and intense drama from Augusta live on Sky Sports, from Thursday 11th April – Sunday 14th April.

Sky Sports Golf will show extended build-up content over the weekend and occasional live updates from the course before the global broadcast window starts at 8pm for the third round and 7pm for the final day, with early action available throughout via the red button.