Tiger Woods had no longer received a big championship in 11 years. He hadn’t slipped at the inexperienced jacket as Masters champions in 14. The ones two numbers by myself would have made what took place remaining April at Augusta Nationwide Golfing Membership a match for the ages.
However consider the entirety else that took place — participant after participant after taking part in dumping pictures into Rae’s Creek on No. 12, Woods narrowly escaping harm after an on-course run-in with a safety guard, the uncommon early Sunday get started.
Such a lot took place. The individuals who had been there bring it to mind all:
When used to be the primary time all through the week you concept, ‘Wait, Tiger Woods may just in reality win this factor’?
Bob Harig: On Friday when he survived the security guard scare. With Tiger having hit his way from the left tough, a guard got here flying into the scene to stay spectators away, inadvertently clipping Woods within the knee, a frightening sight. That Woods went directly to birdie the outlet used to be a just right omen. He shot 68, used to be only a shot again of the 5 leaders who had been tied, and for the primary time since 2012 opened a big with consecutive rounds underneath par.
Michael Collins: After the spherical on Saturday night time, there have been a few us within the parking space speaking with Tiger and his female friend, Erica Herman. Simply ahead of they jumped within the automobile, any individual mentioned, “You are gonna win this factor day after today don’t seem to be you?” And Tiger seemed again lightly, “Yeah, I do know.” I gave him a bro hug and repeated, “You ARE gonna win day after today, don’t seem to be you?!” Seeing the glance in his eyes (nonetheless provides me goose bumps) when he mentioned sure once more, there used to be indubitably in my thoughts.
Ian O’Connor: I began feeling it slightly overdue Friday, since his moment spherical used to be higher than his first and the momentum felt authentic. However I take into accout asking Tiger on Saturday night after his 3rd spherical — in a moment scrum in the back of the clubhouse — how a lot East Lake would lend a hand him on Sunday, and he gave an excessively decisive solution about how a lot he felt the Excursion Championship revel in used to be going to propel him around the ultimate spherical. As I headed again to the clicking heart, I distinctly recall feeling that Tiger used to be in a position to win the Masters.
Mark Schlabach: It used to be most likely after Saturday’s spherical, when I used to be ordered again to the apartment area to start writing a “what if Tiger wins” column. After all, I figured I used to be jinxing Tiger by way of writing it as a result of not anything ever is going as deliberate. Sunday’s spherical, which used to be moved up as a result of the specter of dangerous climate, used to be an up-and-down curler coaster. At more than a few issues all through the overall 18 holes, I wrote about Francesco Molinari successful a inexperienced jacket, Brooks Koepka successful his first, after which again to Tiger successful once more.
Nick Pietruszkiewicz: As he walked off the 18th inexperienced early Saturday night, Tiger had this smile on his face. I do not take into accout ever seeing him smile like that whilst he nonetheless had paintings left to win a big championship. He used to be having a laugh. That glance, it felt as though he knew one thing the remainder of us did not. Positive, he used to be 2 pictures again heading into Sunday and it used to be going to be an early take-heed call as a result of tee instances have been moved up with dangerous climate within the forecast and had by no means received a big from in the back of ahead of, however that smile more or less mentioned to me, “He is aware of.” [Editor’s word: That is after I ordered Schlabach again to the home to begin writing.] I believed he may just win every other main, however that second used to be after I concept he may just win
Peter Lawrence-Riddell: I believed he had a possibility heading into the week; he at all times has a possibility at Augusta if he is wholesome. However I do not believe I had my “wow, he is truly going to win” second till No. 12 on Sunday. After all he used to be proper within the combine means ahead of then, however that used to be after I suppose everybody type of stuck their breath for a moment or two and concept it used to be in reality going down.
The leaderboard going into Sunday used to be packed. Who did you suppose used to be Woods’ greatest danger at the board?
Harig: Francesco Molinari. He proved that taking part in with Tiger used to be no longer a disadvantage a summer time previous at Carnoustie, the place he did not make a bogey over the overall 18 holes to win the Claret Jug. Heading to the overall spherical, he had made only one bogey all match at Augusta Nationwide. He gave the impression so unflappable and reputedly stored par from all over the place, even all through the early a part of Sunday. A pleasant par save at the 11th supposed he saved a 2-shot lead. Everyone knows what took place subsequent, but it surely used to be arduous to peer that coming.
Collins: Molinari. Everybody knew what took place on the 2018 Open Championship. So there used to be a sense that he would possibly do this once more. The sensation used to be much more intensified after he made the unbelievable par save on the 11th. Who knew what used to be coming the very subsequent hollow?
O’Connor: Molinari used to be the most important danger to me. I walked 18 holes with him and Tiger at The Open, when Tiger had the lead at the Sunday again 9, and Molinari simply seemed him within the eye and beat him and not flinched. Molinari is a difficult, tricky dude, and admittedly I used to be surprised when he began falling aside at No. 12. Simply did not be expecting that from him.
Schlabach: I’ve to agree: Molinari used to be one of these system throughout the first 3 rounds and wasn’t making large errors. He’d received the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March and completed 3rd on the WGC-Dell Applied sciences Fit Play two weeks ahead of Augusta. He used to be taking part in golfing in addition to any person on the planet on the time. Molinari had a 2-shot lead over Tiger getting into Sunday’s spherical and used to be up by way of three pictures after 11 holes. I am not certain he is gotten over squandering it even now.
Pietruszkiewicz: Brooks Koepka. Molinari used to be an automaton for 3 days. However Koepka had owned the golfing global. He used to be three pictures in the back of Molinari and simply 1 in the back of Woods and Tony Finau to begin the overall spherical. Having to leap handiest 3 gamers to win a inexperienced jacket did not really feel all that unreasonable. Extra, no person would have loved ruining the Tiger Woods fairy story greater than Koepka, who had already completed it every year previous on the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive.
Lawrence-Riddell: Molinari. He’d simply been one of these system all week, making only one bogey via 54 holes. He received The Open the summer time ahead of and received at Bay Hill previous within the 2019 season. He gave the impression utterly in keep an eye on and unfazed, and I believed it could proceed on Sunday. I no less than concept any individual must get to 15 underneath to overcome him. I indubitably did not be expecting him to head backward — if he shoots even-par he is in a playoff.
What reminiscence from the 2019 Masters sticks out maximum?
Harig: The scene in the back of the 18th inexperienced on Sunday after Tiger received. No longer simply the hugs together with his son and daughter and later his crew, however the noise and the chanting as he walked towards the scoring space. And it used to be there the place he used to be greeted by way of one of the most gamers who had been within the match, ready to congratulate him, together with previous champions corresponding to Bernhard Langer and Trevor Immelman, who wore their inexperienced jackets.
Collins: I will by no means disregard happening to the caddie area and seeing what number of caddies had been looking forward to Joe LaCava. By no means observed anything else like that ahead of. No less than 30 caddies simply ready to congratulate him. Joe’s spouse, Megan, walked in at one level. When she noticed me and mentioned, “You understand how arduous they labored for this …” hugged me and burst into tears, which made me get started crying proper along side her.
O’Connor: For me it’s going to at all times be the look on my brother Dan’s face as we walked the overall spherical. He had by no means been to a big, and to observe him watch Tiger used to be one thing particular. When Dan died remaining month, I could not prevent fascinated with the 16th hollow. A safety guard allowed us a point-blank take a look at Tiger’s essential birdie putt. At the stroll to 17, I informed my brother that he had truly stepped in it, that his handiest shuttle to Augusta Nationwide used to be unfolding into the best Masters of all time.
Schlabach: It needs to be the safety guard who clipped Tiger at the 14th hollow in the second one spherical on Friday. The guard, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent, used to be handiest doing his activity. However there is no working at Augusta Nationwide! The turf used to be slick from rain, and the agent attempted to run towards Woods after he hit his moment shot from the left bushes to give protection to him from converging enthusiasts. When the agent attempted to slam at the brakes, he slid into Woods’ proper leg. Tiger mentioned he momentarily felt some ache in his proper knee. What if it have been worse? I am sure that agent breathed an enormous sigh of reduction when Tiger received his 5th inexperienced jacket, and I am certain the agent’s friends have not stopped giving him grief a 12 months later.
Pietruszkiewicz: With this Masters postponed till early November, I have spent an inordinate period of time fascinated with this solution. Perhaps simply to permit my thoughts to wander to where, to really feel like the arena is correct and we’re all there this week. However I will repeat one thing I mentioned when I used to be requested a equivalent query by way of our PR crew remaining 12 months. I at all times opt for an early morning stroll round Augusta Nationwide — on my own, simply to suppose. Inevitably, I consider my father, who gave up the ghost years ahead of I may just inform him about seeing where in individual. So the instant that stands out for me, whether or not you favor or detest Tiger Woods, whether or not you’ll recognize his talent otherwise you by no means forgive his transgressions, is his hug together with his youngsters in the back of the 18th inexperienced after it used to be over. A father hugging his kid after one thing large.
Lawrence-Riddell: This used to be my first time on the Masters, so what does not stand out? Seeing the media heart for the primary time, which appears to be like extra like a Disney lodge from the outdoor than any media heart I would ever been to. After which in reality getting inside of it and seeing the setup. My first egg salad — I understand it’s only a sandwich, however you pay attention such a lot about it ahead of you get there and it truly is the most productive egg salad I have ever had. Seeing No. 1 for the primary time. The view from the in the back of the primary tee the place you’ll see Nos. 9, 18 and 10. After all, the primary time I walked to Amen Nook — I would at all times concept No. 12 seemed type of “simple” on TV, and then you definately see it in individual and understand how a lot your arms could be shaking status over the ball and taking a look out on the inexperienced.
However with regards to precise play, I used to be in the back of the fairway on No. Nine when Tiger made a couple of 40-footer for birdie in the second one spherical. It moved him to three underneath for the match, and he’d pass directly to make 3 birdies at the again 9, completing the day at 6 underneath and simply 1 shot off the lead (on what used to be as loaded a leaderboard as you’ll ever see). I have been to a couple of majors the place Tiger received or used to be in rivalry and heard some loud roars, and the gang’s response to that birdie on No. Nine used to be one I will at all times take into accout.
Be truthful, ahead of this week a 12 months in the past, did you ever suppose Tiger would win every other main?
Harig: His shut name at Carnoustie and his win on the Excursion Championship in 2018 — the place he used to be paired with Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy over the overall 3 rounds — used to be a clue that he nonetheless had a possibility. I indubitably believed it used to be imaginable however felt his absolute best likelihood remaining 12 months may well be at Royal Portrush for The Open. Because it grew to become out, his handiest likelihood used to be at Augusta, and he took benefit.
Collins: Completely no longer! I’d pass round telling everybody who would inquire from me, “Tiger’s gonna win tournaments once more, however he will by no means win every other main. There are simply too many stuff running towards him. You suppose the entire different most sensible gamers are gonna prevent practising or will fold coming down the stretch?” I will say the similar factor I mentioned on Get Up that Monday: I’ve by no means been extra satisfied to had been so fallacious!
O’Connor: After Tiger overlooked the U.S. Open lower at Shinnecock, I wrote that everyone should relax, that Tiger wasn’t completed successful majors. I recall catching some warmth for that, however I would been constant for some time that Tiger had yet one more magical Sunday left in his bag. And now I believe he will get to 16. I do not know about 17 or 18, however I think assured about 16.
Schlabach: No, I believed he used to be completed as a result of his neck and again and knees and no matter different diseases he has been combating for see you later. He changed into the second-oldest Masters champion at 43 years, three months and 15 days. I figured more youthful gamers like Rory McIlroy, Koepka and others had handed him by way of. After the 2017 Masters champions dinner, even Woods concept he used to be completed. He wanted a nerve block to bear sitting in a chair. In an instant after the dinner, Woods flew to London to fulfill with consultants, who really useful spinal fusion surgical procedure to relieve again spasms and ache and discomfort in his leg. He had surgical procedure in Texas later that month, the fourth again surgical procedure of his profession. Tiger concept he used to be completed, and so did I.
Pietruszkiewicz: I did. Needless to say I did. I mentioned ahead of the 2019 main season started that I in reality concept he would win two remaining 12 months. I used to be part proper; he were given one on the Masters, then seemed terrible on the PGA, the U.S. Open and The Open. However he were given one. And I believe he will nonetheless get extra.
Lawrence-Riddell: So I did, however with a caveat — it needed to be ahead of his frame truly began appearing up once more. I have at all times concept he had a window to win every other one, and concept he’d no less than put himself in rivalry at a couple of of them. However once more, such a lot with him relies on well being now. If he is wholesome for the following 5 years, he will win extra.