What seemed unthinkable just a few years back was almost unstoppable Sunday as Tiger Woods let the world know that he is indeed back.
Given everything that he's been through, the thought of him winning the Masters again was almost unimaginable. From the public humiliation he endured, the countless surgeries he's had and just the mental and physical atrophy of not playing for an extended time, Tiger had a boatload of reasons to hang it up or resign himself to mediocrity but he did neither and Sunday served notice that the Big Cat isn't done yet.
The signs of his re-emergence were there last year as he won at Atlanta's East Lake in September and almost ran down Brooks Koepka at the PGA Championship in August in St. Louis, finishing second.
To me the coolest thing about his win Sunday was the fact that a generation of youngsters who watched him on TV and grew up emulating him had the chance to compete against him and experience the "aura of Tiger."
Best of all, there' a new generation of kids who saw what Dad or maybe even Grandpa was talking about. As an old, out of shape, wanna-be golfer who really didn't like the old Tiger that much, it actually brought a tear to my eye when that tap-in fell, and I guarantee you that I wasn't by myself.
I like the new Tiger just fine, and I guarantee you one more thing . . . he ain't done yet! I haven't watched golf all that long, but I don't see how a tournament could have been any more exciting. On the heels of what I thought was the best NCAA Basketball Tournament ever, along came maybe the best Master's yet.
Now to the nuts and bolts of it. Was it the best comeback ever? My golf guru Gary Adkins posed the question, "What about Ben Hogan?"
What about Hogan indeed! In February of 1949, Hogan and his wife survived a horrendous head-on collision with a Greyhound bus near Van Horn, Texas. Hogan's injuries were horrific: crushed pelvis, broken ankle, broken ribs, fractured collarbone and finally deadly blood clots.
His doctors told him he might never walk again, let alone play golf. Hogan left the hospital 59 days after the accident. In 1950 Hogan won the U.S. Open at Merion.
Tiger has had numerous surgeries himself, but most of them probably stem from the Mr. Olympia-style training he put himself through for years.
Personal difficulties? Tiger's marriage woes are well documented, but again brought on at least partially by his own behavior. Hogan is thought to have witnessed his own father's suicide at the age of nine and if he did, what amount of trauma did that cause.
Hogan was known to be withdrawn and introverted. The loss of his blacksmith father forced he and his siblings out of the home and into the workplace. Hogan peddled newspapers and caddied at the tender age of 11, never finishing high school.
I daresay that 90 percent-plus of today's golfers did not take up the game to escape poverty.
About the win. Tiger did what he had to do. If Francesco Molinari doesn't make a colossal boo-boo on hole 12, Tiger would have, in all likelihood, settled for second place. Brooks Koepka's misstep, at hole 12 also, may have saved Tiger from a third place finish. Third would have been pretty remarkable, all things considered, but to win his fifth Green Jacket was as special as it gets.
We, my wife and son, were there for Tuesday's practice round and ours was an eventful day as well.
Monday's round was shortened by a rough storm that rolled through Augusta mid-afternoon and the course was drenched with 2-3 inches of rain that the area certainly didn't need.
The wettest winter on record, along with a wet spring, made for some muddy walking and walking Augusta National is a challenge with dry footing. We were in a few places that resembled a barn lot Tuesday and it made for a slow go.
Tuesday's forecast wasn't all that great either and unfortunately, the weatherman was pretty well on target. Two hours or so after we passed through the hedges and entered Mr. Jones' masterpiece, we were run off the course by the weather warning siren.
We took lunch at Honey from the Rock on Washington Avenue near the south entrance, and it was a high point of the trip. Wow, talk about good ole, southern cooking . . . it was great with large portions and some real southern hospitality.
The afternoon turned sunny and hot and things got a little sticky. For the first time, and we've been there for four days of the practice round, we saw some poor decision making on the part of the directors on the course. Most were forced by the sloppy conditions and a couple led to some nervous crowd reactions.
But it's still something to see, whether or not you're a golf fan. It's not for the faint of heart, with stifling crowds and nary a flat spot on the entire property but it's definitely a "bucket list" destination.
If you go, take a folding chair, no cell phone, a hat, sun screen, a credit card for the Golf Shop, a little cash for the pimento cheese and egg salad sandwiches and some Ben-Gay for your aching legs.