Tiger Woods burst onto the professional golfing scene. He was something of a child prodigy at the game, first beating his father aged 11. However, it was not until he was 20 that Woods turned professional, back in 1996. He was named as the PGA’s Tour Rookie that year and he also signed some lucrative contracts with Nike and Titleist. By April of 1997, Woods had won his first major tournament, the Masters, which was staged at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, USA. Aged just 21, Woods had arrived and his future as a sporting superstar looked assured.
And yet, it all went wrong for the player who enjoyed a decade at the top of his game. From 2008 on, Woods looked like yesterday’s man. However, he won in dramatic style at the 2019 Masters, a tournament staged where it all began for the golfer. Surely, few sporting comebacks have been so striking. After all, Woods failure to win over the course of the last ten years or so has been due to some very public problems as well as a prolonged dip in form. How on earth did he manage such a revival of his abilities?
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Woods’ Early Success
Having held the world record for the greatest number of consecutive US amateur golf titles, Woods took all of his early form onto the professional stage. After winning the Masters in 1997, he went on to take the PGA Championship in 1999 from Sergio Garcia by a single stroke. Further successes soon followed. In 2000, for example, he won three major tournaments, the US Open, the Open Championship at St. Andrews and the PGA Championship for the second time.
Woods went on to create an aura of success around him which sometimes had an impact on the form of his competitors, especially in tight competitions which were decided by play-offs. During this period, he set the record for the highest annual earnings for a sportsman of any description. He achieved the lowest total score over 72 holes at the US Masters and set a new record for the most consecutive wins at major golfing tournaments. By 2007, he had won the PGA Championship for the fourth time and, in the following year, he won his 14th major, the US Open, for the third time. However, this is when his major tournament success ended – or so it appeared.
The Wilderness Years
In 2009, Woods hit the headlines because he crashed his car, smashing into a fire hydrant. The news may have only been of interest to sports fans other than the fact that it followed embarrassing publications about his personal life. It appeared to outsiders that the sportsman was going through a personal crisis. Despite his assertion that he was okay, several further claims were made concerning extramarital affairs in the ensuing period. This culminated in Woods cancelling his appearance at his own golf charity event and pulling out of professional tournaments. He said at the time that this was due to injuries sustained in his accident, but many thought there was more to it.
At this time, Woods also lost some of his lucrative endorsement contracts. Sponsors were almost falling over themselves to ditch him. In 2010, the golfer said he was attending therapy sessions to help him with his behaviour and that he didn’t know when he’d be ready to return to professional golf. Although he did play again, Woods looked like a shadow of his former self. He claimed injuries were holding him back. Indeed, in 2014 the player underwent surgeries on his back to help him with an injury he had sustained at the Honda Classic. He missed further tournaments and had more procedures in 2015. However, the signs of recovery were there. Before he claimed the big prize at the 2019 Masters, for example, Woods tied for second place at the 2018 Valspar Championship in Florida, which was his best finish for years.
The Future for Woods
Having won his 15th major title, Woods looks set for future success. Many golfing fans believe that his Masters victory was no mere flash in the pan and the sportsman could go on to produce some of his best ever golf now he has so demonstrably put his demons behind him. Having gained plaudits from both his fellow professionals and sports fans who don’t normally even follow golf, few would bet against Woods going on to win at least another few majors. Even if he doesn’t manage it, then at least we can all enjoy the fact that he has pulled off one of the most remarkable comebacks in sporting history!