Almost unthinkable a couple years ago, the great Tiger Woods played four rounds of exceptional golf to win the 2019 Masters Tournament on Sunday.
Tiger Made a Move on Amen Corner
Amen Corner—the 11th, 12th and 13th holes at Augusta National—didn’t get its name for nothing. Throughout Masters’ history, fortunes have been won and lost at Amen Corner. History repeated itself Sunday, as Amen Corner proved to be the turning point in the final round of the 2019 Masters Tournament.
The 12th, especially, proved to be the moment that changed the Masters.
Hole 12 Dominated Other Contenders
Jordan Spieth’s quadruple-bogey on the 12th at Augusta in 2015 cost him the tournament. Spieth sent it in the water not once, but twice, before taking the drop and then playing on. He finished par the rest of the way and would have beaten underdog Danny Willett if not for the breakdown.
Although Spieth wasn’t within shouting distance in the final round this year, he had to flash at least a small smile after seeing the many players that put it in the drink at the dreaded par 3.
The issues started with Brooks Koepka. Koepka sending it into the pond was particularly hurtful, because he finished at 12-under, only a stroke back. Without the flub at the 12th, he might have forced a playoff.
After Koepka sent his ball swimming, Ian Poulter, who was within striking range of leader Francesco Molinari at the time, drowned his ball. But those mishaps were nothing compared to what happened next.
To beat the expected rain, Augusta decided to play groups of three with earlier-than-normal tee times Sunday. After Poulter’s and Koepka’s group, Tiger, along with Tony Finau and two-stroke leader Molinari, stepped up to the tee at the 12th.
Both Finau and Molinari sent shots into the water. They produced almost the same exact shot Spieth produced twice in 2015 and Poulter and Koepka had produced less than 15 minutes before.
After watching the chaos, Tiger played it safe, placing his ball right between the two bunkers on either side of the green. After Molinari knocked in a double-bogey and Tiger shot par, they were tied at 11-under.
Once tied for the lead, Tiger played smart golf until the very end, while Finau and Molinari imploded. Woods was so in control that even a bogey on the final hole wasn’t enough for him to lose his fifth Green Jacket.
Woods is Now Three Away from Tying the Golden Bear
The way Tiger played Sunday puts him back in the conversation of catching Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 majors. Tiger had been stuck on 14 since 2008, when he memorably won the U.S. Open with a bum knee.
Woods’ turnaround started in January of 2018, when he changed his swing. He spent most of last year perfecting that swing. Then, once he became comfortable with his long game, he started working on his short game.
Tiger putted better Sunday than he has in more than a decade. Now with a perfected swing and a stunning putter again. That’s bad news for his competitors, but great news for golfing fans.