Tiger Woods' road to redemption ends with emotional Masters win

George W Bush was in the Oval Office. Fernando Torres ended Spain's 44-year wait for a major trophy. Rafael Nadal was on the cusp of an historic French Open-Wimbledon double. And Tiger Woods has edged Rocco Mediate to claim his 14th Major title.
June 2008 was a very different time to April 2019. Game of Thrones was still three years away from first airing and California saw its very first legal same-sex marriage.
But they have witnessed the beginning and the end of the Tiger Woods
downfall. 4,082 days after lifting the US Open at Torrey Pines, Woods, now 43, punched the air and screamed to the heavens as he sunk the putt that sealed the most spectacular, the most emotional, of sporting comebacks at the Masters
on Sunday.
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HOW THE GREEN JACKET WAS WON
2.16pm
Bryson DeChambeau gets a hole-in-one on the 16th – his first ace ever.
3.12
Woods makes first birdie of the day on 3rd to move one stroke behind.
3.46
Woods picks up back-to-back bogeys on 5th to move three shots behind Francesco Molinari.
4:18
 Two-shot swing as Woods makes birdie while Molinari picks up a bogey on the 7th. 
5:12
Molinari regains two-shot lead after Woods makes bogeys on 10th.
5:33
Molinari hits into water on par-3 12th before picking up a double bogey at 15 as Woods goes joint-level at the top of the leaderboard.
5:44
 Justin Thomas gets the second hole-in-one of the day with an ace on the 16th. 
5:52
Patrick Cantlay moves to the top of the leaderboard on 12-under after eagle on 15.
5:56
Xander Schauffele joins Cantlay in pole position on -12 after picking up back-to-back birdies on the 13th and 14th.
6:04
Woods and Molinari join the leaders after birdies on par-5 13th.
6:34
Molinari's Masters dreams dashed as he goes into water with third shot on par-5 15th.
6:40
Woods grabs outright lead on 13-under par after making birdie on the 15th.
6:52
14-time major winner goes two shots clear on 14-under with birdie on 16 after a near hole-in-one.
7:27
Woods wins his first Masters title since 2005 and first major since 2008 after a bogey on 18th to finish on 13-under.  
By
JONATHAN
SPENCER
 
Play was brought forward and the format altered as inclement weather encircled Augusta National. It was anything but stormy for Woods as he calmly negotiated the famous and treacherous Amen Corner while rivals were swept up in the maelstrom.
Eleven years of public scandal, divorce, four back operations that brought him to the brink of retirement and a descent to 1,199 in the world rankings have been banished.
The road to redemption begins just two days after his victory in San Diego when he announces he is to sit out the rest of the 2008 season after undergoing knee surgery.
It had been an unlikely triumph for Woods, who admitted: 'It's my greatest ever championship. It's the best of the 14 because of all the things that have gone on over the past week.'
He had entered the tournament considerably short of match practice, plagued by pain in his ailing left knee. 
Woods returned to much fanfare in 2009, but failed to win a major for the first time in five years. It ended with him taking an indefinite break from the sport as his personal life fell apart and marriage collapsed amid a string of alleged infidelities.
Two days after the first claims of an extramarital affair came to light, Woods shocked the world when he lost control of his SUV outside his Florida mansion, crashing into a fire hydrant and tree after he pulled out of his driveway. His wife at the time, Elin Nordegren, had to smash a rear window with a golf club to force him out of the car. 
Questions were inevitably raised - what had happened to to one of sport's most decorated names? What led to the car crash? Was he under the influence? Where was he going at 2:25am on a Friday? What would happen next opened a whole box of revelations that would leave his reputation in tatters and would one day eventually lead to him falling outside the top 1,000 in the world rankings.
The then 14-time major winner had lacerations on his upper and lower lips, as well as blood in his mouth. The crash had knocked him unconscious for about six minutes and he was treated for 10 minutes until an ambulance arrived. 
Following intense media speculation about the cause of the much-spoken about accident, Woods released a statement on his website and took sole responsibility for his actions, labelling it a 'private matter'. 
'This situation is my fault, and it's obviously embarrassing to my family and me,' he says. 'I'm human and I'm not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn't happen again,' Woods said on his personal website.
For a famously private individual, whose brand was very much built on his reputation as a clean-living man as well as being sport's biggest star, it was the last publicity he would ever hope for. Citing his injuries, Woods then withdrew from his own annual tournament - the Chevron World Challenge.
On December 1, the Florida Highway Patrol announced that Woods would face a $164 fine for careless driving and four demerit points against his driver's licence. He was not to face criminal charges.
What followed would derail his career quicker than he would have ever imagined. 
Several claims by additional women claiming affairs with Woods quickly mounted in the next few weeks, prompting Woods to take an 'indefinite break' from professional golf. He checked into a sex rehab clinic in December. Woods lost endorsement deals with Accenture, AT&T, Gatorade, General Motors and Gillette.
But there appeared to be a glimmer of hope on the field for the American in 2010 at the Masters. Following a 144-day hiatus from the sport he loves, the record-chasing golfer sealed a fourth place finish at Augusta. But in August, he divorced from his wife Elin following the on-going flurry of claims about affairs. 
After finishing tied fourth again at the 2011 Masters, it seemed like there was hope he could resurrect his dreams of surpassing Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major victories. However, soon after injuries started to creep into his game that would derail his plans when he sprained his MCL and left Achilles tendon.
After withdrawing from the Player's Championship in May and firing his long-term caddie Steve Williams, who brought him huge success down the years, Woods dropped down to 58 in the world rankings. Surely it couldn't get much worse.
He managed to bounce back with victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2012, his first PGA win since September of 2009. It turned out to be a hugely successful year for the American as he won five more PGA titles and returned to world No 1, his 624th week in that position.
But persistent back injuries from there on in hampered his career more than anyone could ever imagine, which nearly led him to retiring from the sport he adores. Woods was forced to undergo back surgery in Utah in 2014 for a pinched nerve, just a week before the Masters as he missed the tournament for the first time. 
In September the next year after missing three of the four cuts in the majors, Woods' back injury returned and he required a second micro-discectomy surgery to remove a disc fragment that was pinching his nerve.
Woods' golfing career was unravelling around him and shortly after came a third back surgery in October as he fell outside the world's top 100, in which he had a procedure to 'relieve' discomfort.
The 43-year-old, who then dropped out of the world's top 500, returned in December 2016 to play in the Hero World Challenge - his first competitive rounds in 466 days.
His golfing career seemed in the dumps and all but over. However, what was to come would write its place in the history books and mark the greatest sporting comeback of all-time. In April 2017, the Ryder Cup star underwent his fourth back surgery called spinal fusion, which proved to be a game-changer, to alleviate the pain in his back and leg.
But of course his journey wouldn't be so simple and he was yet again plagued with controversy when he was arrested in May 2017 for drink-driving.   
Woods was pulled over driving southbound away from his $83m Jupiter Island home and restaurant The Woods when he was seen driving 'erratically, all over the road' in his 2015 Mercedes-Benz. A cop said that he smelled alcohol on his breath and then arrested him for refusing to take the test.
The superstar spent around seven-and-a-half hours in Palm Beach County Jail before being released at 10:50am along with a disheveled mugshot revealing the once bright light of golf to be bleary-eyed and balding, which quickly went viral and shared all over the internet - becoming a symbolic moment in how far he had fallen from grace. 
But the saga went on, with Woods, who also dated Olympic ski racer Lindsey Vonn for two years between 2013-15, claiming his DUI arrest was because of an 'unexpected reaction' to his medication and not because he was drunk.  
'I understand the severity of what I did and I take full responsibility for my actions. I want the public to know that alcohol was not involved,' said Woods in the statement.
'What happened was an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications. I didn't realise the mix of medications had affected me so strongly.
WOODS' MAJORS
1997:
Masters
1999:
PGA Championship
2000:
US Open, Open, PGA Championship
2001:
Masters
2002:
Masters, US Open
2005:
Masters, Open
2006:
Open, PGA Championship
2007:
PGA Championship
2008:
US Open
2019:
Masters
'I would like to apologise with all my heart to my family, friends and the fans. I expect more from myself too.
'I will do everything in my power to ensure this never happens again.' And he certainly stuck by that with his long road to redemption ending in glory at the Masters on Sunday. 
He has defied the odds after admitting in 2017 that he nearly retired from his beloved game. He actually needed a nerve blocker in order to walk into the 2017 Champions Dinner at Augusta before spinal fusion surgery allowed him to resume his PGA career.  
'I was done at that particular time,' Woods said, as quoted by ESPN.
'I had to get a nerve block just to be able to walk and come to the dinner,' he continued. 'It meant so much to me to be part of the Masters and come to the Champions Dinner. I didn't want to miss it. It was tough and uncomfortable.'
But 2018 saw the rise of Woods again, a year that would play a significant role in getting his career back on track. He finished tied second at the Valspar Championship, tied sixth at the British Open, and second at the 2018 PGA Championship in August - just two strokes behind winner Brooks Koepka.
Would he ever win on the PGA Tour again? He was certainly getting there and he stunned the world of sport when he secured an emotional and stunning victory in the season-ending Tour Championship at the end of September. The main man had risen from the depths of agony and despair - he was ready to conquer the golfing world again.
Fast forward seven months and Woods shocked the world with the most historic and brilliant triumphs that sport has ever seen. His 13-under finish at the Masters, while donning his famous red and black final round attire on Sunday, was testament to his dedication and commitment to come back in style from talk of an early retirement.
Francesco Molinari led the way by two shots heading into the final round but Woods more than held his nerve, eventually winning by one stroke ahead of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele. The emotion poured out of him - 11 years of frustration and agony was over and it was well worth the wait.
Twenty two years after his first major victory at the Masters, when his father Earl met him off the 18th green and wrapped him in an enormous bear hug, this time it was as a father himself that he was greeted by his own two kids. It had come full circle.
There was a poignant moment on Sunday evening following his victory when Nike released a commemorative video celebrating his famous victory that would send shockwaves throughout the world. A three-year-old fresh-faced aspiring golfer, in Woods, could be heard: 'I'm gonna beat Jack Nicklaus'.
40 years on and it could still become a reality. One major down, four to go. He couldn't, could he? 
TIMELINE OF TIGER WOODS' UP-AND-DOWN CAREER 
December 1994
- As a freshman at Stanford, Woods has surgery to remove two benign tumors and scar tissue in his left knee.
August 1996
- Woods wins third straight U.S. Amateur and turns professional the following week.
October 1996
- Woods wins the Las Vegas Invitational for his first PGA Tour victory in his fifth professional start.
April 1997
- Woods wins the Masters at age 21 with a record score (270) and a record margin of victory (12 shots) to become its youngest champion.
June 2000
- Woods wins the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach by 15 shots, the largest margin in major championship history.
April 2001
- Woods wins the Masters to become the only player to hold all four professional majors at the same time.
December 2002
- Woods has surgery to remove fluid inside and outside his ACL in his left knee, and to remove benign cysts.
October 2004
- Woods marries Elin Nordegren.
June 2007
- His wife gives birth to their first child, a daughter Samantha, a day after Woods finishes runner-up in the U.S. Open.
July 2007
- Woods ruptures his ACL while running on a golf course after the British Open. He goes on to win five of his next six tournaments, including the PGA Championship.
April 2008
- Two days after a runner-up finish at the Masters, Woods has arthroscopic surgery to repair cartilage damage.
May 2008
- Woods is advised weeks before the U.S. Open that because of two stress fractures in his left tibia, he should expect to be on crutches for three weeks and be out of golf for an additional three weeks.
June 2008
- Woods wins the U.S. Open in a playoff at Torrey Pines for his 14th major, four short of the record held by Jack Nicklaus. A week later, he has reconstructive surgery on his left knee to repair the ACL and is out for eight months.
February 2009
- His wife gives birth to their son, Charlie.
August 2009
- Woods loses a two-shot lead in the final round of the PGA Championship to Y.E. Yang, the first time he has lost a 54-hole lead in a major.
November 2009
- Woods crashes his SUV into a tree and a fire hydrant outside his Windermere, Florida, home. The next few weeks his personal life unravels amid reports of multiple extramarital affairs. He loses major sponsorship endorsements. He spends 45 days in a clinic and does not return to golf until the 2010 Masters.
August 2010
- His divorce from Nordegren is finalized.
May 2011
- Woods withdraws from The Players Championship after a 42 on the front nine and takes a break of nearly three months.
March 2012
- Woods wins the Arnold Palmer Invitational for his first PGA Tour victory since the scandal in his personal life.
August 2013
- Woods wins the Bridgestone Invitational for the eighth time, his 79th career victory, leaving him three short of the record held by Sam Snead.
April 2014
- Woods has back surgery a week before the Masters and misses Augusta National for the first time.
September 2015
- After missing the cut in three of the four majors, Woods has a second back surgery and hopes to return in early 2016.
October 2015
- Woods has another back surgery to relieve discomfort.
December 2016
- Woods competes for the first time in 15 months at the unofficial Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. He makes 24 birdies but finishes 15th out of 18 players.
February 2017
- Woods shoots 77 in the opening round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and withdraws the next day with back spasms.
April 2017
- Woods has his fourth back surgery to fuse discs in his lower back.
May 2017
- Woods is arrested and briefly jailed in Jupiter, Florida, on suspicion of DUI.
August 2018
 - Finishes second at the PGA Championship behind Brooks Koepka.
September 2018
 - Woods wins the Tour Championship - his first victory since 2013. 
April 2019
- The American remarkably wins the Masters - his first major win since 2008. 
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