Opinion: The mother of all comebacks | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 15.04.2019
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Opinion: The mother of all comebacks

Is there anything more intriguing in sports than a comeback? And often the farther someone falls, the more intriguing their success story can be. They don't get any better than Tiger Woods', writes Chuck Penfold.

There are few athletes who achieve such domination that they become household names, familiar even to non-sports fans all over the world. But Tiger Woods achieved this from the mid-1990s through and beyond the mid-2000s. Unless you were a true fan of golf, Woods' dominance of the PGA Tour became rather boring — with the only question on an awful lot of weekends being who would come second in the tournament in question. That's how dominant he was.

Steep fall

Although he already had a couple of knee operations behind him, his fall from grace began with a car accident in front of his home in Florida in November of 2009. It seemed completely out of character for someone who, up until that point, had seemed always to be in control. Then came the news of a number of affairs and the breakdown of his marriage. In 2010, not only did he lose the No. 1 ranking that he had held for 281 weeks, but he also lost $20 million worth of endorsements after several of his major sponsors bailed on him. 

Penfold Charles Kommentarbild App

DW Sports editor Chuck Penfold

Despite the personal problems, Woods continued to try to play golf over the ensuing few years, but knee and back problems continued to take their toll, reducing him to an also-ran — when he did manage to play through the pain. There was a comeback in late 2016 after a back injury had kept him out of action for over a year. It was then that he admitted that the pain had been so bad that at one point he seriously doubted whether he would ever be able to pick up a club again.

And things would get worse before they got better. Police in Florida arrested Woods in May 2017 after finding him asleep in his car on the side of the road. Who can forget the mugshot that graced internet sites and newspapers around the globe? Many found it very hard to believe his claim that he not been drunk at the wheel. It turned out that golf's former top player was telling the truth — a toxicology test found no alcohol, but a cocktail of drugs in his system to deal with pain due to a back operation he'd had a month earlier.

Pain-free at last

What's the old saying about things being darkest before the dawn? It happens to have been that same spinal-fusion surgery that allowed Tiger later that year to declare himself pain-free for the first time a very long time. And he proved it by winning the Tour Championship in Atlanta.

Just winning any tournament was remarkable, but coming back to win the Masters 14 years after he last did so is the mother of all comebacks — as much a testament to his perseverance as a demonstration of his supreme talent. The way the gallery followed and cheered on the 43-year-old during Sunday's final round also showed how popular he still is with the fans — perhaps even more so now as a fallible human being than during his days of controlled dominance. The question on fans' minds since Sunday has to be: Was this just a one-off, or could there be more majors to come?

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