After 4 Back Surgeries, Tiger Woods Wins His First Golf Tournament

Sep 24, 2018
Originally published on September 24, 2018 11:49 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

It has been more than five years since we've said these words. Tiger Woods has won. Yesterday in Atlanta, that's exactly what happened. The man who once ruled the game won the season-ending Tour Championship. It was his 80th career PGA win, and it's being called one of the greatest sports comebacks in history. Here's NPR's Tom Goldman.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Two things we haven't seen in a long time - Tiger Woods in his traditional Sunday red shirt and black pants tapped in a tournament-clinching putt yesterday - his last win was in 2013 - and then the goose bump moment right before. As he walked up the last fairway, the massive gallery that followed him all day, all tournament swarmed behind him Pied Piper-style and left him laughing at the post-tournament award ceremony.

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TIGER WOODS: Well, I just didn't want to get run over.

(LAUGHTER)

WOODS: (Laughter) I can't run anymore, so...

GOLDMAN: He laughs now, but there was a time in recent years when Woods' bad back left him unable to do anything without hurting. He talked about it yesterday.

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WOODS: Am I going to able to sit, stand, walk, lay down without feeling the pain that I was in? And this is how my - the rest my life's going to be?

GOLDMAN: Turns out no. Spinal fusion surgery last April, his fourth back operation, worked. This season, there was a return to competitive golf and a steady climb in the rankings as Woods pieced together a swing that wouldn't ravage his 42-year-old body. Victory seemed imminent after top 10 finishes at recent major championships. In yesterday's final round, he was methodical and consistent and dominant, the way he used to be.

During his comeback from the physical problems and the psychological damage from his sex and infidelity scandal, there's been talk about a kinder, gentler Woods that was there in Atlanta. But observers also noted so was the edginess that defined Woods during his heyday. As he balances that with the newfound appreciation for playing again at a high level, golf fans can't wait for next season to see how high the new old Tiger Woods can go. Tom Goldman, NPR News.

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