Tiger Woods simply showed golf’s younger generation how he did it during his prime.
The 43-year-old Woods surged out of a pack of contenders with three birdies on the back nine and shot 2-under-par 70 to claim his fifth Masters title and 15th major victory by one stroke over Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka at Augusta National Golf Club www.augusta.com in Augusta, Ga.
“This was one of the hardest to win because of all I’ve been through,” said Woods, who thought his career was over two years ago following four back surgeries. “But after last year, when I was close in the last two majors, I knew it was possible and I was able to seal the deal today.
“I was very patient over the last three days. I was in control of my emotions and committed on every shot. I was just plodding along and there were so many possible scenarios, but then things flipped and I was in the lead. I came up 18 knowing I only needed a 5 and it was nice to have a tap-in to win.
“I’ve come full circle. I had my Dad here when I won the first won in 1997 and it was great to have my kids (daughter Sam and son Charlie) here with my Mom this time. It’s just amazing to be the champion again.”
Woods, whose last major title came in the 2008 U.S. Open and previous Masters win came in 2005, birdied the 13th, 15th and 16th holes to take sole possession of the lead and a meaningless bogey on the last hole left him at 13-under 275.
Second-ranked Johnson birdied four holes down the stretch to post a 68 that was matched by Schauffele, from La Jolla and San Diego State, while Koepka missed a 15-foot birdie putt on the last hole that could have forced a playoff and finished at 70.
“I got off to slow start, but played a nice back nine,” said Johnson, whose only major title came in the 2016 U.S. Open. “I tried to chase Tiger and the leaders down, and it was a good day, but just not good enough. I heard the roars, but you can tell the difference between the roars for me and the roars for Tiger.”
Said 10th-ranked Schauffele: “It was a lot of fun to be involved in the Masters with Tiger in his red shirt and the reaction of the crowd. Just an awesome feeling, an amazing experience and I gave it a good run.”
And fourth-ranked Koepka, who has won three majors in the last two years, said: “That last putt just didn’t come back, but Tiger was awesome. It’s incredible what he’s done after what he’s been through. As a fan, I’m glad to see it and it was fun to be part of it.”
Koepka was one of several players who waited to congratulate Woods behind the final green as the crowd chanted: “Tiger, Tiger, Tiger.”
Third-round leader and seventh-ranked Francesco Molinari, who won the Open Championship last year at Carnoustie, seemed to be in control until hitting his tee shot on the 12th hole into Rae’s Creek en route to a double-bogey 5 and hit into the water again at No. 15 for another double.
Molinari, who held a three-stroke lead early in the final round, struggled to a 74 and finished two shots back in a tie for fifth with Jason Day of Australia, who had a 67, Webb Simpson, who shot 70, and Tony Finau, who carded a 72 alongside Woods and Molinari in the final threesome.
Eighth-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain wound up at 68 to finish one more down in a tie for ninth with Rickie Fowler of Murrieta, who had a 69, and Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA, who had the lead after an eagle on the 15th hole, but followed with two bogeys and totaled 68.
Two-time Masters champ Bubba Watson closed with a 69 and wound up in a tie for 12th that included fifth-ranked Justin Thomas, who had a 70, while three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson finished at 72 to finish in a tie for 18th that included 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia, who came in at 73.
Third-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who started the week hoping to complete the Career Grand Slam, played his best golf of the tournament with a 68 to finish in a tie for 21st that 2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth, who had a 69, while
sixth-ranked Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis shot 70 to tie for 29th, and defending champion Patrick Reed tied for 36th after a 69.
Viktor Hovland of Norway, the U.S. Amateur champion, totaled 71 and finished as low amateur in a tie for 32nd.
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