When Tiger Woods leaned over a short putt to win the 2019 Masters on the 18th green at Augusta, he completed one of the most celebrated comebacks in sporting history.
But little did we know he would have to scale a much higher mountain within 12 months and just as we wondered whether eclipsing Jack Nicklaus’s tally of 18 Major wins was back on, seeing Woods back on a golf course would now be a huge victory.
Everything changed on 23 February when, while driving in Rancho Palos Verdes just outside Los Angeles, Woods lost control of his Genesis GV80 on a corner.
A lack of skid marks suggested he may have pressed the accelerator rather than the brake, but he broke both legs and screws and plates were inserted into his ankles and feet.
He was lucky. But once his life was out of danger, we were all left wondering one thing:
Will we ever see Tiger on a golf course again?
A Prodigy Earmarked for Golfing Greatness
Some would subscribe to the opinion that Eldrick Tont Woods was destined for greatness ever since his father Earl placed a golf club in the hands of his two-year-old son.
He was on the celebrity TV circuit while he was still at Elementary School before making his mark as an amateur, winning the silver medal at The Open at Royal Lytham & St Annes in 1996.
It was the 1997 Masters when he won the Green Jacket as a 21-year-old by 12 shots and within months he was officially the world’s best player, dominating the sport for the next decade.
But it wasn’t just his ability to play that made him at times unbeatable.
It is a favourite technique of successful performers to have two personalities and Woods is perhaps sport’s greatest example.
He was Eldrick off the course, but once he stepped on that tee, Tiger took over. He dominated his opponents and the 18 holes in front of him in equal measure.
Even putting on his famous red shirt on a Sunday gave him an air of invincibility. On the 15 occasions he has held the joint or outright lead after 54 holes of a Major, he has lost just once.
Mental Toughness a Huge Asset in Recovery Process
You don’t get to win 15 Majors without a huge willingness to succeed and a great deal of focus.
Woods changed the game with his approach to physical fitness and few subsequent champions would admit that he hasn’t been a huge influence on them.
So now it is a case of seeing if the will of the mind can conquer the condition of his body.
Having had his legs shattered, it doesn’t help that he plays a sport that involves walking about five miles every day.
Woods will be 46 at the end of the year and it is difficult to see him doing more at Augusta than attending the champions dinner next April.
We could see him back eventually, but we don’t know what is going on in his mind. He doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone.
Why would he need to play again? He’s done it all.
But then he might just want to prove he cannot be written off. Just one last time.