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Tiger Woods's 2019 Masters Win Is a Deep Exhale for a Whole Generation of Golf Fans

Woods picked up his fifth Green Jacket Sunday, holding out a leaderboard filled with the best golfers in the sport.
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It's the ending a whole generation of golf fans has waited more than a decade for. On Sunday, Tiger Woods, perhaps the greatest to ever play the game, won his fifth green jacket, and he did it in a way he never has before—trailing the leader entering the final round.

There was a time, after a brief hiatus, that the golf world wondered if Woods would ever play the game professionally again, let alone win a major tournament. But in true Tiger fashion, as if we had transported back to his domination in the early aughts, Woods mastered Augusta National in a way fans everywhere had hoped so long to see once more.

Though he'd already secured a one-shot lead, the true turning point came with a near-hole-in-one on Augusta's 16th hole—a par 3 on which Woods is no stranger to making incredible shots. The last time he won the Masters, in 2005, his chip-in-birdie at the 16th became iconic. Not even Nike's top marketing minds could have dreamed up a better image, with his ball hanging on the lip for what felt like a full ten minutes before dropping into the cup, propelling him to his fourth green jacket.

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In 2019, it was a mix of Woods' iconic resilience and intensity that earned him another Masters victory. Here's the shot at 16 that led to a birdie.

Sunday's win was more than just another major for Woods—his 15th, more than any golfer short of Jack Nicklaus's 18. It was the moment a generation of golfers has been anticipating—and hoping for—since Woods last donned the green jacket. Tiger Woods changed golf, and anyone born in the last 30 or so years has known him as the greatest ever to play the game—"fan favorite" wouldn't do his dominance justice. His last major win was the 2008 U.S. Open. Just two years later, after extramarital transgressions thrust him into the tabloid spotlight, Woods took a hiatus from the game. Even upon returning, the whole world could tell this wasn't the fist-pumping Tiger who turned a sport often thought of as background noise for a nap into an action-filled spectator sport. After his 2017 arrest for reckless driving, it was unclear whether fans would ever experience the thrill of a Sunday surge from Tiger Woods ever again.

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Then, in 2018, something changed. Tiger's swing looked better than ever, and he finally shook his slump, winning the 2018 Tour Championship. It was something fans had longed for, but still far from the back-nine-at-Augusta Tiger the whole was used to seeing.

They got that on Sunday, April 14, 2019, when Woods' stellar back nine led to an electric victory once again. For the past two years, the question has been "Is Tiger Woods back?" With his fifth green jacket, now the only question that remains is "How back is he?"

This story originally appeared on Esquire.com.

* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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