Back in 2015, in the midst of what was an 11-year major drought, Tiger Woods was done.

Well, not just done.

He was “totally, completely, unequivocally, and utterly done” according to Golf Digest’s Shane Ryan.

“The version of Tiger Woods that is a once-in-a-generation golf talent now belongs entirely to the realm of memory,” Ryan went on to write.

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But the internet does not forget and neither does Woods.

Even when he took time away from the competition for 466 days, Woods was not done, not forgotten or a lost cause, going on to complete one of the sport’s greatest all-time comebacks.

Woods would end that 11-year drought in 2019, claiming his fifth Masters title.

But just two years on, Woods was once again told he may be done, that his professional career could very well be over — and this time, he was ready to accept it.

After all, forget staring down the possibility of not setting foot on another golf course, Woods was now staring at his own mortality.

“This has been an entirely different animal,” Woods told Golf Digest last year.

“I understand more of the rehab processes because of my past injuries, but this was more painful than anything I have ever experienced.”

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What would follow was a long and painful rehabilitation process, with no certainty that Woods would ever play again.

After all, there was a point in time where Woods was not even sure if he would walk out of the hospital with both of his legs.

He was not even sure what ‘fully recovered’ would look like but 14 months ago, that journey started with Woods lying in a hospital bed, simply asking for a golf club to hold.

Tiger Woods’ recovery has been remarkable. Andrew Redington/Getty Images/AFP
Tiger Woods’ recovery has been remarkable. Andrew Redington/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

Then once he got home, there was a three-month period in a hospital-like bed before progressing to a wheelchair and later crutches.

Forget 14 months ago, even just five weeks ago while at the Genesis Open, Woods admitted that walking on a course with undulations was something “I can’t do”.

“It’s frustrating,” he said, his chances of competing at the Masters seemingly slipping away.

But here he is, now walking the undulating Augusta National and in turn doing the unthinkable.

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“It’s unheard of,” ESPN golf analyst Michael Collins said.

“I don’t know anyone in golf who has done this before.”

There was one person — Ben Hogan back in 1949 — who was hit head-on by a Greyhound bus while driving home after the Phoenix Open, told he would never walk again without assistance.

Just a year later he was not just back on the course but went on to win the 1950 US Open.

“I think something that is realistic is playing the tour one day—never full-time ever again—but pick and choose, just like Mr. [Ben] Hogan did,” Woods told Golf Digest last year.

“It’s an unfortunate reality, but it’s my reality. And I understand it, and I accept it.”

Just like Woods initially came to accept that even just being able to play with his children would be enough after his accident.

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“We were talking about how he’s going to be lucky to keep that limb,” Collins said.

“The fact he just has his leg and foot attached to his body and is now playing in the Masters, so soon after a horrific event like that is just almost unfathomable. It’s one of those things where you look at it and go: ‘If he never plays professional golf again and only gets to do things like play in the PMC with his son Charlie, it would be completely understandable’.

“But we also know Tiger Woods is a guy who at one point won the US Open on a broken leg. This guy has a will and inner strength that most people and even some athletes just don’t have.”

Tiger Woods is back and the whole world is watching. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/AFPSource: AFP

It is something Rory McIlroy has quickly come to learn.

Eight years ago, when Woods and Phil Mickelson failed to qualify for the finale at the Tour Championship, McIlroy was asked whether it signalled somewhat of a changing of the guard.

“You’ll see him back here again,” McIlroy said of Woods, adding: “They’re just getting older… so they’re getting into the sort of last few holes of their career”.

It was not necessarily controversial, nor meant to be a personal gibe but it caused a stir nonetheless.

And regardless of whether it was taken out of context or not, McIlroy clearly learnt his lesson.

“So, would I be surprised?” McIlroy asked himself on Wednesday of Woods’ latest comeback.

“No,” he responded, simply adding: “I’m not surprised at anything he does any more”.



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