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'Yeah buddy': Tiger Woods reacts to Masters win as stunning career comes 'full circle'

Tiger Woods celebrates with his son Charlie Axel as he comes off the 18th hole following his Masters victory.
Tiger Woods celebrates with his son Charlie Axel as he comes off the 18th hole following his Masters victory.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

'Yeah buddy'.

Those were the rather understated words of Tiger Woods as his fifth green jacket was slipped over his shoulders by 2018 winner Patrick Reed. They came some way short of summing up the feelings of his legions of adoring supporters around the globe.

Roars of 'Tiger Tiger Tiger' erupted by the 18th green when the winning putt dropped into the cup.

The greatest story in the history of sport? Quite possibly. Definitely maybe.

It's just five days short of two years since his spinal fusion surgery when everybody wondered if the 14-time major winner (until today) would ever play again let alone win again. Another Masters victory? Forget about it.

He dropped out of the world's top 1,000 golfers a few months later and his last major victory at the 2008 US Open seemed a lifetime ago.

Paul Azinger claims the man himself even told a fellow pro he was 'finished', while Padraig Harrington admitted that anybody who said otherwise was 'just being polite'.

But here he is. A major champion again. The Masters champion. Now just three shy of Jack Nicklaus' major record.

How do you sum that up?

'Yeah buddy'.

"It's overwhelming because of what has transpired," he said. "Last year, I was just lucky to be playing again. The previous champions' dinner I was really struggling. To now be the champion is unreal. My mom was there in 97 and here today. I couldn't be more happy and excited. I'm at a loss for words."

Tiger's two children, Sam and Charlie, ran to their father as he came off the 18th green, Charlie leaping into Tiger's arms. Father and son. Just as it had been 22 years ago, when Tiger was on the opposite side of a hug with dad Earl after his first win at Augusta.

Daughter Sam was just a year old at his last major win. Charlie wasn't even born. Finally they get to see their dad as we all once knew him. A champion. The champion.

"It's just special," he said. "To have (my kids) here. Sam actually lost a state soccer tournament yesterday so I convinced them to come up today and luckily I was able to win.

"To have my kids there, it's come full circle. My dad was here in 97 and now I'm the dad with two kids there."

It wasn't an easy victory; the first of his 15 major titles to be earned after failing to hold the 54-hole lead.

The man who did, by two shots, was Open champion Francesco Molinari. It took visits to the water on 12 and 15 to end the Italian's charge while Tiger just didn't make any major mistakes, picking up two-putt birdies at the back nine's two reachable par fives and adding a stylish two at the 16th to go two shots clear at the top.

"I was as patient as I've been in a number of years out there, especially the last three days," he said. "My emotions, my shot placements.

"That (leader)board was a who's who and it all flipped at 12. Francesco made a mistake, Brooksy made a mistake and all these different scenarios start flying around. It was an amazing buzz to figure out what's going on and still focus and stay present. I kind of liked it.

"I was just trying to plot my way around all day. All of a sudden I had the lead and coming up 18, it was just try and make a five. When I tapped the putt in, I know I screamed and I was looking for Joe (LaCava - caddy).

"This is one of the hardest I've ever had to win. I was close last year a couple of times, in the last two majors, and applied what I learned to today."

They said it would never be done. But against all the odds, Tiger Woods is a major champion once again.

They said they wanted to play against Tiger in his pomp. The real Tiger. Now he's major champion once again.

'Yeah buddy'.

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