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Tiger Woods rolls back the years to claim stunning Masters victory

The 43-year-old started the day two shots off the lead but battled hard to see off Francesco Molinari, Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele.

Tiger Woods wins The Masters.
Tiger Woods wins The Masters.
Image: David J. Phillip

TIGER WOODS COMPLETED one of the greatest comebacks in the history of sport as his battling performance saw him become the 2019 Masters champion.

The 43-year-old, who has undergone multiple surgeries on career-threatening back injuries and who has overcome setbacks in his personal life in recent years, started the day two shots behind overnight leader, Francesco Molinari.

The American claimed victory at Augusta National for a fifth time on a score of 13-under par, finishing one shot clear of compatriots Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka.

Woods’ latest Green Jacket brings his tally of Major titles to 15, but none have been more celebrated than today’s victory in Georgia.

The success caps a tremendous seven months which saw him also capture the Tour Championship last September.

Masters Golf The 2019 Masters champion. Source: David J. Phillip

His win on Sunday ended a major drought stretching back to 2008 and Woods celebrates his first Masters victory since 2005.

The tension ratcheted up as the tournament neared its conclusion, with five players sharing the lead at 12-under par before Woods birdied the 15th to pull clear.

The triumph was the first major victory for Woods when he did not lead after 54 holes, having started the day adrift of reigning British Open champion Molinari.

Racing to finish before an oncoming thunderstorm, players created their own electric atmosphere, spectators roaring repeatedly for sensational shotmaking on one of golf’s iconic stages at Augusta National, where Woods won his first major title in 1997.

Fans chant Tiger’s name

Woods drove the green in two at the par-5 15th and tapped in for birdie to seize the lead alone at 13-under par then sank a four-foot birdie putt at the par-3 16th to stretch his advantage to two shots with two holes remaining.

Woods parred 17 and walked up to the 18th green to crowds 20-people deep applauding with delight, but he kept a stoic visage until the job was complete, a tap-in for bogey followed by a fist pump and a scream of joy in celebration of a fairytale fightback like few others in sporting history.

Just off the 18th green, Woods hugged his mother as he had his late father Earl in 1997 and held his children, his back more than up to the task as the crowd chanted his name, a rare tribute, and rivals congratulated him as he entered the clubhouse.

Masters Golf Tiger hugs his family after today's victory. Source: Matt Slocum

Woods, one shy of matching Nicklaus for the most career Masters wins (6), won his 81st career US PGA victory, one shy of the all-time record held by Sam Snead.

He also set a record for the longest gap between Masters triumphs, the 14-year spread one year longer than the old mark set by South African Gary Player from 1961 to 1974.

It completes a fairytale comeback to the pinnacle of golf for Woods, whose career imploded after a 2009 sex scandal before unravelling amid injuries and personal problems.

After battling to overhaul 54-hole leader Francesco Molinari of Italy, Woods birdied the par-5 13th to join a lead pack of five at 12-under.

Woods, Molinari, Schauffele, Kopeka and Johnson — with Australian Jason Day in the clubhouse on 11-under and Patrick Cantlay, who also hit 12-under, foiled by bogeys at 16 and 17.

Woods and Molinari, in the last trio, each birdied the par-5 13th to reach 12-under while Johnson reeled off three consecutive birdies, the last on an 11-foot putt at 17, to make 12-under.

Schauffele got there on birdies at 14 and 15 and Koepka by answering a double bogey at the par-3 12th with an eagle at 13 and birdie at 15.

None could go lower except Woods, with Molinari undone at the par-5 15th when his approach struck a tree limb and his chip barely clung to the side of a damp slope on the way to a double-bogey disaster.

Augusta National moved the final round to Sunday morning due to storms expected to arrive in the afternoon, when leaders would typically be battling for the title.

The Masters, which has not had a Monday conclusion since 1983, decided to cancel its green jacket ceremony at the 18th green in order to hurry spectators to the exits faster.

With reporting from AFP.

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