Legendary golfer Tiger Woods made a stunning comeback Sunday, nabbing his fifth Masters title. As he walked off the green following the win, the athlete celebrated in an exceptionally heartwarming way — by giving his son Charlie Axel Woods a huge hug.
14 years after his last Masters victory, Tiger's roar returns to Augusta. pic.twitter.com/AwFWljGPDL
— Masters Tournament (@TheMasters) April 15, 2019
Woods' victory in Augusta, Georgia, marks his first green jacket since 2005 — four years before Charlie was born to then-wife and model Elin Nordegren in 2009. The former couple also share daughter Sam Alexis Woods, born in 2007. His children, mother Kultida Woods and girlfriend Erica Herman were all in attendance Sunday, and received hugs after the win — but it was the touching moment with Charlie that caught the world's attention.
Video captured Woods heading toward his son, who then ran to meet him, and joyously picking him up as both smile. "To have my kids there, it's come full circle. My dad was here in '97, and now I'm the dad with two kids there," Woods, 43, said after the round.
— Masters Tournament (@TheMasters) April 14, 2019
The sweet moment reminded many of the father-son hug Tiger shared with his own dad, Earl Woods, after winning his first Masters in 1997 at age 21, the youngest champion ever. His father died in 2006 at age 74.
Before Sunday, Woods hadn't won a major in more than a decade, having last captured the U.S. Open in 2008. Tiger's 11-year drought between majors was tied for the longest drought ever. The star's comeback, after scandal and injuries threw off his game, is being touted as arguably the greatest career comeback in the history of golf.
Woods shot a final round score of 70 to finish 13-under par. He has now earned 15 career major titles, just three behind all-time leader Jack Nicklaus.
As Tiger Woods completed an improbable, decade-long comeback not many predicted would evolve from pipe dream to green jacket, his 10-year-old son made good on a New Year’s resolution on Sunday. In a fourth-grade classroom, Charlie Woods was asked at the beginning of the year to write down his goal for 2019. His answer was easy: He wanted to see his father, arguably the most transcendent athlete in modern history, victorious.
“He wanted to actually witness me winning a golf tournament,” Woods told CBS’s Jim Nantz. “Well, he witnessed me winning a major championship.”
With the roar of the crowd deafening, Woods, grinning from ear to ear with celebratory clenched fists, made the familiar walk to the small holding area behind the 18th green of Augusta National. When he first won the Masters, it was his father, Earl, waiting for a triumphant embrace that has been replayed on a loop since 1997.
But for his children, Charlie and 11-year-old daughter Sam, it was their first trip to Augusta, Ga. And this time, it was Tiger, the 43-year-old father of two whose life has sometimes resembled a Greek tragedy, who embraced his children in his latest career-defining moment at the Masters.
Charlie, in a matching red Nike shirt and black hat, ran past the rope and jumped into his father’s arms, and the golfer lifted his 10-year-old in the air with ease, hooting and hollering as Charlie held on tight. He proceeded to hug everyone in sight, from his mother, Kultida, who was there 22 years earlier for his first win, to his girlfriend, Erica Herman, to Sam, whom he convinced to come to the Masters after her team lost a state soccer tournament in Florida during the weekend.
Almost immediately, Woods’s embrace with Charlie drew immediate parallels to his hug with Earl in 1997, with many noting how his relationship with his children has helped the golfer emerge from an extended dark period marred by extramarital affairs, sex addiction, misuse of prescription drugs, alleged treatments with a doctor linked to performance-enhancing drugs and four back surgeries.
“I never thought we’d see anything that could rival the hug with his father in 1997,” Nantz said, “but we just did.”
“That will be the greatest scene in golf forever, Jim Nantz,” Nick Faldo replied.
“That hug with his children, if that doesn’t bring a tear to your eye if you’re a parent, you’re not human,” Nantz said.
Watching this on repeat. The noise level from the gallery, the hug with the kids, Tiger’s roar and genuine joy. Better than we could have imagined. pic.twitter.com/2oe3jILYKS
— Nathan Murphy (@nathanmurf) April 14, 2019
Even Woods couldn’t believe the bookend Masters moments of father and son, from 1997 to 2019.
By all accounts, Earl Woods should not have been at the 1997 Masters. It had only been six weeks since undergoing triple bypass heart operation to correct several damaged or blocked arteries, the result of years of smoking, drinking and uneven dieting. As authors Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian reported in the 2018 biography “Tiger Woods,” Earl had flatlined while in recovery, with Woods saying his father at one point told him he “felt he was walking into the light.” (Full disclosure: This reporter was the lead researcher for that 2018 book.) Earl, who labeled his son “a genius” for the game when he was just 11 months old, recalled that his son didn’t have to say anything about the prospect of losing him to know what the youthful golfer was feeling.
Tiger is not one to over-emotionalize things,” Earl, then 64, said shortly after leaving the hospital. “Neither am I. We don’t have to. We just touch, and it’s all said.”
Earl was practically bedridden when he made it to Augusta, going against doctors order to not travel, Woods said on Sunday.
“My dad shouldn’t have come in ’97. I mean, he had heart complications, and wasn’t supposed to fly, but he flew and came,” Woods said. “Gave me a putting lesson on Wednesday night, and the rest is history.”
No matter how weak he was, he had one of his son’s friends drive him to the course for the end of the final round. Months earlier, Earl had predicted to Sports Illustrated that his son would “do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity,” more so than the likes of Nelson Mandela, Gandhi or Buddha.
“He is the Chosen One,” the father had said.
Unrealistic expectations aside, the father-and-son embrace in April 1997 almost instantly became one of golf’s finest images.
“We made it,” Earl said at the time, sobbing. “We made it. We made it.” With his son not wanting to let go in April 1997, Earl whispered into his ear, “I love you, son, and I’m so proud of you.” According to “Tiger Woods,” the embrace between the two, and eventually Kultida, “may have been the happiest moment of Tiger Woods’s life” at the time.
Earl died in 2006 of prostate cancer at the age of 74.
Later, Woods became a father, the saving grace of a nearly 10-year period of tribulation and tumult. Woods has repeatedly credited his children, who have largely kept away from the public eye, not just for stabilizing his life but also with helping him refocus on golf. It started as early as 2015, according to Benedict and Keteyian. That year, Woods, who was long frustrated whenever back problems prohibited him from playing with his young children, was in the mix at the Masters despite those same health concerns. His motivation was still winning, but one thing had changed for Woods, who went on to finish tied for 17th that year.
“I don’t think things get any more special for me, because when I first won here, it was my dad at the back of the green, and now it’s my two kids,” Woods said.
The last time he won the Masters, in 2005, his children weren’t born,” the authors wrote in “Tiger Woods.” “He wanted nothing more than for them to see their dad put on a green jacket.”
A couple years later, during a private meet-and-greet with soccer legend Lionel Messi, Woods wondered again what it would be like to show his kids a taste of what he was like at the height of his powers during Tigermania. According to “Tiger Woods,” when he asked his children how cool it was to meet a living legend, Sam replied, “Yeah. We live with one.”
On social media, golf experts and fans alike compared Sunday’s father-son hug to his iconic 1997 moment with Earl.
“Everyone remembers Tiger’s hug with his father in 1997,” golf broadcaster Kevin Smith tweeted. “No one will ever forget today’s embrace with his son.”
Here are some sponsors who benefit from his Masters win
Tiger Woods, the former 14-time major champion, is now a 15-time one, having won the Masters for the fifth time. Plagued by scandal and a body that seems to deteriorate by the year, Woods has lost most of his major sponsors. However, he still carries branded logos on his shirt, bag and clubs.
After a scandal that triggered his divorce, Woods was dropped by sponsors who paid him tens of millions of dollars. These included consultancy Accenture, AT&T, Buick and Gillette. Nike stayed the course. Its founder and former CEO, Phil Knight, would not leave Woods no matter how bad things got. The decision was never fully explained.
Woods has a golf ball endorsement deal with an unlikely candidate: Bridgestone. The Japanese company is barely known in the U.S. golf world. Almost every other well-known golfer plays Titleist, Taylor Made or Callaway balls. He signed the deal in 2016 and first played it in a tournament that he sponsors once a year in the Bahamas.
Woods has two more well-known golf equipment deals. The first is the Nike deal that survived his scandals. He first signed with them in 1996 and again in 2013 – for $200 million. Woods's agent, Mark Steinberg, told ESPN at the time, "We're comfortable with where we ended up and the career trajectory that Tiger will be on with Nike. I'm thrilled we were able to complete this deal." He wears the Nike symbol on his shirt.
Woods has a relatively new club deal with Taylor Made, cut in 2017. It has just started to sell the irons it made for Tiger for $1,000. When the clubs were released a few weeks ago, Woods said, "Consumers have never had the opportunity to play irons like mine … until now." The set is branded the P-7TW Milled Grind irons.
Woods has a sports drink sponsor. Gatorade dominates the market. And he signed a deal with Monster Energy last year. A Tiger Woods version of the energy drink will be introduced this year.
Several other sponsors are barely known to the public. One is the Full Swing golf simulator. With a base price of $25,000, it is hardly for every golfer. Woods is also an investor in the company and helped invent the product.
Upper Deck, best known for baseball cards, is among Woods's smaller sponsors. Hero MotoCorp, an India-based company, is the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles and scooters. It is, however, barely known in the United States.
The firm's CEO admitted as much. "As Brand Hero keeps expanding its global footprint across continents, our aim is also to take Golf to newer demographics and bring innovations to the game. Tiger will continue to play a valuable role in this exciting journey," said Dr. Pawan Munjal, Hero MotoCorp's chair, managing director and chief executive.
Another little-known sponsor is Kowa, a pain relief company based in Japan. Given Woods's history of injuries, this makes sense.
Finally, the biggest Woods sponsor is himself. Look for the TW logo on his hat.