Yesterday, Tiger Woods won The Masters for the fifth time in his career, with a humongous smile and the classic fist pump we’ve seen from the now 15-time major champion. The one stroke victory was one of the greatest comebacks professional sports has ever seen and the 43-year-old was clearly emotional as he embraced his children, knowing just how difficult the journey proved to be.
Woods hadn’t won a major since 2008, ultimately marking the end of an 11-year span where he was arguably the most dominant player the PGA Tour had ever seen. More than that, he had become irrelevant in the sport, thanks to a public divorce and a nagging back injury, falling out of the top 1,000 in the World Golf Rankings. Most figured they’d never get another glimpse of Woods’ greatness but that all changed at Augusta National and while it’s unclear if the old Woods is back, its rejuvenated professional golf, as he looks to chase down Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championship victories.
To celebrate Woods’ almost unbelievable comeback, Sports Illustrated decided to put the golf great on the cover of its upcoming issue. And the cover of the sports magazine is historic, with SI doing something on the cover it’s only done two other times in its history, dating back to 1954 – no descriptive text. The first issue to feature no text on the cover was the March 3, 1980 issue, when the United States men’s hockey team shocked the world and beat the Soviet Union in the “Miracle on Ice” during the 1980 Winter Olympics at Lake Placid and the second came on August 21, 1995, as a tribute, when New York Yankees great Mickey Mantle passed away the week prior.
As if a special edition cover wasn’t enough to show just how impactful Woods’ win was to the sports world, President Donald Trump announced that the golfer would be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award given by the United States. No matter what awards, honors, or historical covers, it’s great to see Woods back on top. Golf is just more fun when he’s at the top of his game.