Tiger Woods wins the Masters(!), Phil Mickelson’s all-time dagger, and the greatest four minutes in sports history
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Welcome to another addition of The Grind where we would have made a parody music video about Tiger Woods years ago, if we knew it would mean he’d win another major. Any podcast karaoke requests before next month's PGA Championship? Anyway, what a freaking week. Did that just really happen? And did I really get a compliment from FIVE FOR FIGHTING for my silly Tiger tribute?
Looks like we’re going to have to change the lyrics again, John. But seriously, let’s talk Tiger. The man has been intertwined with the phrase “Just do it” for more than two decades, but how the heck did he just do THAT?! Let’s share some laughs—and tears—as we recount one of the most magical moments in sports history. Chances are, we won’t see anything like that again. Sorry, couldn’t help it.
Tiger Woods: Improbable. Inspirational. Thrilling. Historic. Countless words have been written about Woods’ fifth Masters win in the couple days since, but those are the four that stand out to me. And in my 10 years at Golf Digest, I’ve written the phrase “14-time major champ” to describe Woods countless times. I can’t believe I’ll never have to write that again. Unlike when the calendar changes and you mistakenly write the old year the first few times, I can assure you that will not happen in this case. I can also assure you this is NOT me going crazy in the background despite all the texts I got from friends and family thinking it was:
Again, not me. I swear. Anyway, Tiger Woods is now a FIFTEEN-time major champ. At least, for now. Jack better watch his back.
Tiger Woods: As for his actual play, where do we even begin? Woods was like that ratsnake seen consuming a squirrel during Wednesday’s Par-3 Contest. He made his first serious move from the trees on No. 14 on Friday, making one of the most spectacular birdies of all time that included a daring recovery shot and a scary brush (literally) with a security guard. From there, he patiently constricted the life out of a star-studded leader board. And by the time he hit his latest iconic shot on No. 16 (Can we rename that par 3 "Tiger’s slope”?), it was too late for anyone else to escape his grasp. And by anyone, I mean a who's who of the Official World Golf Ranking. What a tournament.
Kevin C. Cox
It’s rare when you wake up knowing history can be made that day, but that’s exactly what happened. Woods was congratulated by Presidents, fellow GOATs, fellow players, longtime rivals and countless celebrities. And look at the way it was covered.
TIGER WOODS WON THE MASTERS! In 2019! I still can’t believe it. And I’ll never forget being there.
James Aducci: It wasn’t nearly as impossible as the 1 million-to-1 four-major parlay bet some guy almost pulled off two years ago, but it had to be a million times more stressful. According to this Wisconsin man, the $85,000 he risked on Woods winning the Masters at 14/1 was his first sports bet of anytime. While some (including me) are skeptical of that, here’s what we know for sure: Adducci’s payout of $1.19 million (The $1.275 million check includes the initial $85K) was more than anyone not named Tiger Woods won for the Masters.
(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for William Hill US)
Congrats, James. But seriously, you should quit while you’re (way) ahead.
CBS’ closing coverage: After a crazy week in Augusta and a longer-than-expected trip home (no, I’m not looking for sympathy), I was thoroughly exhausted. But what was the first thing I did? Re-watch the entire back nine, in particular, Tiger’s closing two holes during which I was amid the massive crowds, mostly unsuccessful in seeing anything other than the big scoreboard by 18 being changed. Hearing the action unfold live was an experience I’ll never forget, but the coverage of Tiger’s winning tap-in and what happened next by CBS, in particular Nick Faldo and Jim Nantz, who went a full two-and-a-half minutes without saying anything, was fantastic. It made for the most amazing four minutes in sports TV history:
Good lord, does it get dusty in this room every time I watch that. Weird …
CBS’ Sunday ratings: I feel bad for Nantz & Co. because of Sunday’s tee times being moved up by five hours. It slashed what could have been record-breaking ratings as many fans were oblivious to the new start time or unable/unwilling to change their own Sunday morning tee times. In the end, the network had to settle for its highest-rated morning golf telecast. Things peaked as Woods finished around 2:30 p.m. at a 12.1 rating, which is the highest since the final round in 2013. Pretty good, but again, nothing compared to what a normal start time would have produced.
Mock turtlenecks: Hey, I’m all for Tiger using whatever he needed to win that fifth Masters, but I’m not about to go copy his style this time (As I write this, I’m wearing my collared red Tiger Woods Nike shirt). Although, apparently, other people are …
Hey, to each his own.
Augusta National’s fifth hole: Kidding. Sort of. If it wasn’t for this newly lengthened hole, which Woods bogeyed all four days, he would have run away with this thing! Talk about Tiger-proofing.
Augusta National’s rat snake: As mentioned before, this thing gave me nightmares on the eve of the Masters:
Days before I had seen a two-foot garden snake in my yard for the first time and contemplated selling my house. And now this? Thankfully, I was back in the media center making a different kind of discovery at the time (more on that later).
The PGA Tour heads to Hilton Head for the RBC Heritage, AKA that event where Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo really earn their money. Getting right back out there and being excited about another golf tournament after the most exciting tournament of the year ever? Hang in there, guys.
Random tournament fact: Sorry, can’t think of anything. Let’s just reiterate: TIGER WOODS WON THE MASTERS! WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
— James Adduci will ever win another bet that big: 1 MILLION-to-1 odds
— Tiger Woods will win next year’s Masters: 8-to-1 odds (Already the favorite, and why not?)
— More people will be chewing gum on the golf course this year: LOCK
PHOTOS OF THE WEEK
There are too many to choose from, but here are a couple from our guys on the ground. First, J.D. Cuban capturing Tiger's triumphant celebration:
And then Christian Iooss getting this great shot of Tiger's emotional embrace with his son, Charlie:
Chills. And to see more, check out our fantastic slideshow of staff photos from the week.
PHOTOS OF THE WEEK (NON-TIGER WINNING DIVISION)
If anyone had a better week at Augusta National, it was Valentino Dixon. The artist, released from prison last fall after 27 years for a murder he didn’t commit (in part due to work from Golf Digest’s Max Adler), met Tiger Woods and Brooks Koepka:
Hung out with Jack Nicklaus:
And even got a golf lesson from Tom Watson:
Even cooler than all of that? Valentino got to see in person the place that inspired so many of those drawings from his prison cell:
OK, now I’m going to cry again. Let’s move on to something a bit lighter …
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK
In the middle of the Masters, Phil Mickelson managed to hit Matt Kuchar with one of the all-time random daggers:
So good. It also prompted me to try my own video en route to Augusta National with Sam Weinman on Sunday:
And no daggers here about Sam’s tipping, because he’s quite generous. When he’s using the company credit card, that is. Heyooooo!
THIS WEEK IN CELEBRITY GOLFERS
Steph Curry congratulated Tiger Woods for his win, then showed off his swing with his latest pregame trick shot:
Good luck beating that guy in H-O-R-S-E. And good luck beating the seat Michael Phelps had for Tiger’s near hole-in-one on No. 16 on Sunday.
That’s GOAT-on-GOAT viewing right there. So cool.
QUOTE(S) OF THE WEEK
I’m going with things Tiger said to start and end his winning press conference. First, "You couldn't have had more drama than we all had out there, and now I know why I'm balding. This stuff is hard.”
That got a good chuckle out of everyone in the room. And then there was this sweet line to close: "Yeah, I'm excited about show‑and‑tell at school.” You almost feel bad for the other kids at that school.
THIS AND THAT
For the first time at a golf tournament, fans could see virtually every shot by every player on the Masters digital platforms. Also, IBM’s Watson spit out three-minute highlight reels of players’ rounds based on artificial intelligence that determined a shot’s importance based on player and crowd reaction. At this rate, I won’t have a job much longer. … Xander Schauffele now has finishes of T-2, T-2, T-5 and T-6 in four of his first eight major starts. I’m liking the 10-to-1 bet I have on him winning a major this year with a random Twitter follower more and more. … My fun week also included teeing Conor Moore up for some of his incredible impressions, including one night at a party hosted by Niall Horan:
Conor is hysterical. And no, I didn't get to sing a duet with Niall. Maybe next time. … And finally, for some reason, it took me until my seventh Masters to finally try the fabled Georgia Peach ice cream sandwich:
In related news, I’m an idiot.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
How many times have I written “the 14-time major champ”?
How many sticks of gum did Tiger chew during his win?
Seriously, did that win really just happen?