Tiger Woods will be allowed to hang on to his Green Jacket for longer than most Masters champions thanks to Covid-19 and perhaps that is fitting given the scale of his achievement 12 months ago. Woods will finally take golf’s most precious garment back to Augusta National some time in late-autumn if the 2020 tournament can eventually be played but for now, as the defending champion, he can keep it for a few more months.
For Woods, the delay is timely given the back issues which interrupted his early-season. He was badly short on competitive golf and would have been pretty ring-rusty.
Still, since when have normal rules applied to Woods.
From his first Masters win at 21 through the terminator phase of his prime years to the self-destruction and the resurrection he has been a golfer – and a sportsman – apart.
Even by his standards though Augusta last year was something extraordinary as he won his fourth Masters 14 years on from his third amid head-spinning scenes.
Woods watched the final round of his fourth Masters victory back in full a month afterwards with caddie Joe LaCava beside him at his Florida mansion and laughed as he saw even Michael Phelps transfixed.
The visor-clad Olympic swimming great was picked up by the cameras watching slack-jawed from behind the ropes at the 16th tee as Woods’s eight-iron approach dribbled down the slope to within two feet to set up history.
“I did not notice Michael was back there. I was locked into what I was doing. I had just taken the lead on 15 and was trying to figure out if it was going to be 7 or 8,” said Woods.
“To see the reaction and to see Michael leaning in and basically bending over in the same position that I was in that was pretty cool.
“It was kind of fun to sit back and listen to the broadcast and hear their take on it. We hear the roars. We hear the birdies that are being made. We have the signage that people pop up to say what they have done; we just don’t know how they did it. The fun part was reliving that from a totally different perspective.”
Woods, who had trailed leader Francesco Molinari by a shot overnight and pressed the pedal to the floor as the Italian splashed down at the shirt 12th, was within touching distance.
The straightforward birdie putt which followed at 16 put Woods two clear with two holes to play and he finished the job at the final hole to trigger an emotional embrace with his children Charlie and Sam by the green.