What Tiger Woods said after winning his 15th major title at the Masters
Tiger Woods made history on Sunday after claiming his fifth green jacket and 15th major title - 11 years since he claimed his last.
It was fitting that it would be on the greens of Augusta National and for Woods, everything has come full circle. 22 years ago his dad was the one to greet him by the 18th green for his first major; and on Sunday, it was his children.
It's been 15 years since he last won at the Masters, and since then he has overcome highly publicised personal and extensive physical problems that left him wondering if he would ever get back to this point.
That narrative became stronger after he pulled out of this tournament two years ago to have a fourth back surgery to fuse his spine, and many - including himself - cast serious doubts over whether he could ever play again, let alone win a major.
But Woods, who is one of the greatest players to play the game of golf, says that the drive and competitive fire within him that helped him win his first 14 majors is also what led him to overcome the darkest moments in his career to put on his fifth green jacket on Sunday.
For Woods, the message is simple: 'never, ever give up.'
Here's what he said after winning the 2019 Masters Tournament...
On what this victory means to him
It hasn't sunk in at all. This is one of those things, it's going to take a little bit of time, and I'm just fresh off of just winning the tournament, and I just can't wait to see how it all unfolded from the TV perspective, because I know I was grinding hard trying to chase Francesco today, and then all of a sudden the leaderboard flipped and there were a bunch of guys up there who had a chance to win. I hit some of the best shots on that back nine today. You know, I felt like I just flushed it coming home, which was a nice feeling.
You know, just the whole tournament has meant so much to me over the years. Coming here in '95 for the first time, and being able to play as an amateur; winning in '97, and then come full circle, 22 years later, to be able to do it again, and just the way it all transpired today.
There were so many different scenarios that could have transpired on that back nine. There were so many guys that had a chance to win. Leaderboard was absolutely packed and everyone was playing well. You couldn't have had more drama than we all had out there, and now I know why I'm balding (laughter). This stuff is hard.
Yeah, just to come back here and play as well as I did and did all the things ‑‑ all the little things well this week, and to do it here. This has meant so much to me and my family, this tournament, and to have everyone here, it's something I'll never, ever forget.
On the doubts he had that he would ever win another major again after his injuries...
I had serious doubts after what transpired a couple years ago. I could barely walk. I couldn't sit. Couldn't lay down. I really couldn't do much of anything.
Luckily I had the procedure on my back, which gave me a chance at having a normal life. But then all of a sudden, I realized I could actually swing a golf club again. I felt if I could somehow piece this together that I still had the hands to do it. The body's not the same as it was a long time ago, but I still have good hands.
So that certainly has helped, and I pieced it together, and next thing you know, if you look at it, my first 14 wins in majors were always ‑‑ I had the lead in every one of them, or tied for the lead. To have the opportunity to come back like this, you know, it is probably one of the biggest wins I've ever had for sure because of it.
I was very fortunate to be given another chance to do something that I love to do. I always felt like I could do pretty much anything physically, but for a while there, I just couldn't even walk. Now I'm able to play golf again, and do it at an elite level again, which is something that I'm just very blessed to be able to have that opportunity again.
On never giving up after his injuries...
Well, you never give up. That's a given. You always fight. Just giving up's never in the equation.
Granted, pushing and being competitive has got me into this position, but it's also what got me out of it. And so I've always had a pretty good work ethic throughout my career and throughout my life, and I just had to change the work ethic a bit and work on some different things.
Focused on that and just keep fighting. That's just part of the deal. We wake up every morning, and there's always challenges in front of us, and keep fighting and keep getting through.
On having his family there next to the green...
My dad shouldn't have come in '97. I mean, he had heart complications, and wasn't supposed to fly, but he flew and came. Gave me a putting lesson on Wednesday night, and the rest is history.
My dad's no longer here, but my mom's here, 22 years later, and I happen to win the tournament; and then to have both Sam and Charlie here, they were there at the British Open last year when I had the lead on that back nine, and I made a few mistakes, cost myself a chance to win The Open title.
I wasn't going to let that happen to them twice (smiling), and so for them to see what it's like to have their dad win a major championship, I hope that's something they will never forget.
It means the world to me. Their love and their support, I just can't say enough how much that meant to me throughout my struggles when I really just had a hard time moving around. Just their infectiousness of happiness; you know, I was going through a tough time physically. There was a lot of times when I really couldn't move, and so that in itself is difficult.
But just to have them there, and then now to have them see their Pops win, just like my Pops saw me win here, it's pretty special.
On how he felt coming in to the tournament...
I just felt so prepared coming into this event. This year, my finishes don't really reflect it, but I was starting to shape the golf ball the way that I know I can, which I needed for this week.
I had a pretty good feeling going into this week that I was going to be able to contend in this event. I really felt that I was starting to shape the golf ball, and my putting was starting to come around. My short game's been there. I know that I made a few mistakes the last couple tournaments, but it just felt like it was there. My hands were good.
Prep for the Masters starts six months ago, so just trying to make sure I get ready to peak for this one week, and I did, and everything came together, which is great. I kept doing all the little things correctly. Missed the ball in the correct spots time and time and time again, and if I was out of position, so be it, take my bogey and move on. I had no doubles this week. Just kept, as I said, just kept plodding along.
Where it ranks in terms of his other 14 majors...
It's got to be right up there, right, with all the things that I've battled through. Just was able to be lucky enough and fortunate enough to be able to do this again.
It's ironic that I'm given a chance to play golf again, and lo and behold, I won a tournament coming from behind, which I had not done for the first 14. So it's just amazing.
It's special to me. It's special to my friends and family, and I think that everyone out here who was here got a chance to witness something that was amazing and just the competitive environment. Everyone was playing well at the same time, and it could have gone so many different ways. Just happened to hang in there and persevere.
On if he feels like he's 'back'...
Yeah, I do, because I just did it, you know.
I was able to play some of my best golf over the last, basically, I think the last three days, and the first day was a little bit here and there, but the last three days, I really played well.
I'm going to keep saying this, but there was so many different scenarios that could have happened on that back nine.
I've been in that spot before. I've been in a position where I've won, and I've been in a position where I've lost. But I just kept telling myself, at least I'm in that position. Let's go ahead, and we have a lot of holes to play. I was able to handle the heat down the stretch and pull off some of my best shots.
What the win confirms to him about where his game is...
Well, I can win majors now.
The win at East Lake was a big confidence‑booster for me because I had come close last year a couple times, which still have to get it across the finish line, and I didn't quite do it. I didn't do it at Tampa. I didn't do it at The Open Championship. I was a little better at the PGA, but still I didn't win.
East Lake was a big step for me, confirming that I could still win out here and against the best players. Because East Lake, obviously it's the hottest 30 guys for the year. To be able to do that against Rory and Rosey there gave me a lot of confidence going into this year, and I said, you know, just keep building on it and let's try to get the mind and body peaking towards Augusta.
So my last three major championships have been pretty good, so that in itself gives me a lot of confidence going down the road.
On staying patient on Sunday...
I kept telling myself to miss the ball in the correct spots, and I did, time and time again. I was very disciplined in what I was doing out there. Even when yesterday guys were shooting 64 left and right, I was just kind of going around, just handle your business, work your way up the board. We've still got a lot of golf, a lot of holes to play, and just make sure that I'm there in the end.
So I could shoot myself out of the tournament, but just make sure that I keep myself in the event. There's so many different things that can happen on the back nine on Sunday. We all know that, and it played itself out again. There were so many different scenarios that could have happened after 12. It could have gone so many different ways, and I just kept saying, just keep hanging in there until the last couple holes and we'll see where we are. Just keep hanging in there.
Birdieing 15 and 16, you know, gave me a nice little cush with the last two holes to play, but still, there's different scenarios that could have happened there, as well.
On how good he felt with the driver...
I will tell you it's the best I've felt with a driver in years.
I was able to hit the golf ball both ways this week, and some of the shots I hit down 13, turn it around the corner, a couple of drives down 2, some of the bombs I hit down 3; and then to hit little squeezers out there down 7; you saw it today on 15 and 17 and even on 18, just little trap‑squeezers out there, as well. I was able to hit both end of the spectrum, low cuts and high draws. That's not easy to do, so I just really felt that I had that much control in my long game and it paid off.
On how experience counts at Augusta...
Well, I think that if ‑‑ and it helps being around here and playing this golf course so many different times. Unfortunately I've hit the ball in some weird spots, like 9 being one of them; I've been up there before.
You know, I had not been that centered to that flag, center of the green. I've been more on the right side of the green, so I had a little better angle. But I've had a very similar putt to that speed‑wise, so made sure that if I make a mistake on that putt, make the mistake of leaving it short up on that middle ridge. Don't make the mistake of hitting it too hard and having it go off the front of the green.
I can walk away with a three‑putt and still be in the tournament. Who knows, I can make one down from the middle shelf, who knows, but just don't make the mistake long and make 6. I know I have a putt and I'm putting for birdie, but just don't make 6 here. I think it's just the little things of discipline like that is what it takes to win on this golf course. If you understand how to play this golf course, you can beat pretty much anyone, because it's about how to play it.
On if he's now thinking about Jack's 18 major record...
You know, I really haven't thought about that yet. I'm sure that I'll probably think of it going down the road. Maybe, maybe not. But right now, it's a little soon, and I'm just enjoying 15.