Tiger Woods held his nerve on a wonderfully chaotic final day at Augusta National to win his 15th major title, and a first in 11 years, in the 83rd Masters.
Amid a dizzying series of twists and turns, Woods carded a closing 70 to finish 13 under par, one shot ahead of Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka, the reigning US Open and US PGA champion.
Overnight leader Francesco Molinari was two clear with seven to play but dumped his tee shot on the 12th into Rae’s Creek and also double-bogeyed the 15th, the Open champion having to settle for a tie for fifth with Tony Finau, Webb Simpson and Jason Day.
Tiger Woods was overcome after completing a remarkable comeback by winning the Masters at Augusta on Sunday
It was a fantastic day for Woods and golf as the former World No 1 claimed his 15th major title – two years after he almost quit
The 43-year-old celebrates with his family after claiming a dramatic one-shot victory at Augusta National on Sunday
An emotional Woods hugs his mum Kultida after finally ending his 11-year wait for a major title at Augusta on Sunday
THE FALL AND RISE
Tiger Woods since winning his last major, the US Open 2008:
2008 Knee surgery
2009 Admits to many affairs and is arrested after driving in to a fire hydrant, fence and hedge at home. Takes an indefinite break from the sport
2011 Sacks long-time caddy Steve Williams as his ranking drops to 58
2013 Elbow surgery
2014 Back surgery and misses Masters
2017 Arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs
It is the first time Woods has won a major when trailing after 54 holes and comes 3,954 days since he beat Rocco Mediate in a play-off for the 2008 US Open, despite a double stress fracture and knee injury which prompted season-ending surgery.
And it is just two years since he told Jack Nicklaus ‘I’m done’ during the Champions Dinner at Augusta National, after which he flew straight to London to see the consultant who recommended he undergo what proved to be career-saving spinal fusion surgery.
With thunderstorms forecast to hit the course in mid-afternoon, tournament officials took the unprecedented decision to move the tee times forward by several hours, with players sent out in groups of three from both the first and 10th tees.
Molinari began the day with a two-shot lead over Woods and Finau and found himself three clear after six straight pars, but Woods closed the gap to a single shot with the aid of back-to-back birdies to set up a thrilling finale.
Woods had ridden his luck at times in his third round of 67 and finally paid the price for a wild drive on the 10th, the resulting bogey dropping him two behind Molinari, who saved par superbly after pulling his approach left of the green.
However, the wind was playing havoc on the daunting par-three 12th and Molinari, Koepka, Ian Poulter and Finau all dumped their tee shots into the water guarding the front of the green.
Woods was delighted his family were there to witness his 15th major title, and a first in 11 years, in the 83rd Masters
Woods celebrated with his caddie Joe LaCava after tapping in for a bogey on the last to complete a one-shot victory
Woods produced one of the greatest comebacks in sport by winning the Masters at Augusta on Sunday
Woods produced a vintage display in the final round to edge out Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele
Two years ago he was overheard saying ‘I’m done’ at the Masters past champions dinner due to his injury nightmare
LONGEST GAPS BETWEEN MAJORS
Julius Boros – 11 years, nine days (1952 US Open to 1963 US Open)
Henry Cotton – 11 years, four days (1937 Open Championship to 1948 Open Championship)
Hale Irwin – 11 years, one day (1979 US Open to 1990 US Open)
Ben Crenshaw – 10 years, 11 months, 24 days (1984 Masters to 1995 Masters)
Lee Trevino – 10 years, eight days (1974 US PGA to 1984 US PGA)
Sensing his opportunity, Woods played safely away from the pin and a somewhat nervy par, after leaving his birdie attempt five feet short, gave him a tie for the lead as Molinari could not get up and down following a penalty drop.
An amazing day then took another twist as Patrick Cantlay, who only made the halfway cut with a shot to spare, followed his third round of 64 with five birdies and an eagle on the 15th to briefly claim the lead, only to bogey the next two holes.
Birdies from Johnson and Koepka made it a five-way tie before Molinari’s mishap on the 15th, where Woods two-putted from long range for birdie to take the outright lead for the first time.
Woods was then inches away from the third hole-in-one of the day on the 16th and tapped in for birdie to double his lead, allowing him the luxury of a bogey on the last before the exuberant celebrations could begin as chants of ‘Tiger, Tiger’ reverberated around the 18th green.
‘That will be the greatest scene in golf forvever,’ said six-time major winner Nick Faldo, commentating for CBS. ‘We will never see anything as exhilarating as that.’
Francesco Molinari’s hopes of a second major title ended when he hit his third shot to the 15th into the water
American Dustin Johnson birdied the 16th and 17th in the final round to move into a tie for the lead on 12-under-par
Brooks Koepka made it a five-way tie at the top of an leaderboard with a birdie on the par-five 15th
Ian Poulter’s hopes were dashed when he dumped his tee shot into the water guarding the front of the green on the 12th