When he won his fifth Masters title and 15th major championship on April 14, Tiger Woods regained his place at the top of the golfing world. This victory ends a drought of 11 years without a major title, a period which saw the 43-year old going through mental and physical travails which left him looking like a spent force. But with this win, there is talk of resurgence and return to his top form.
Tiger Woods was synonymous with golf about a decade ago. Even those who didn't follow the sport knew his name. But then, in 2009, things came apart in a spectacular way when he was revealed to have been involved in several promiscuous relationships outside his marriage. Suddenly, this icon of the sport, seen as a role model, became a target of scorn.
This personal disaster led to a complete breakdown in his professional life as well. The man who, at that time, had 14 major titles under his belt and seemed favourite to break Jack Nicklaus' record of 18, went into a downward spiral.
But the vagaries of sport can never be predicted. On Sunday, April 14, Tiger was back on a familiar perch – that of a champion at Augusta Masters. It was here that he announced his arrival as a future great when he secured his first major title at the age of 21. 13 more titles followed until a drought began following 2008 US Open.
His success brought the world's attention back to golf. It is clear that even today, nobody commands as much stardom among golfers as Woods. US President Donald Trump, an avid golfer himself, tweeted praise for the star. "What a fantastic life comeback for a really great guy," was the tweet from the leader of the country. He was joined by his predecessor Barack Obama who also showered praise on the 43-year old for recovering his form.
Now that he is back to his winning ways, talk of him breaking Nicklaus' record of 18 major titles has revived. Though he may not yet be back to his best – he scored a bogey on the last hole – but this victory can be a new start for the five-time Masters champion.
As much as the emotional turmoil, the physical difficulties faced by Woods in the last decade were also of a high order. Serious surgeries on his back had caused considerable difficulties and even threatened to end his career. The fact that he could now compete and win at the highest level suggests that both on the emotional and physical front, Woods is back to his best. Can he follow this triumph with other great victories? Only time with tell.