By The Associated Press
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) — The comeback is complete. Tiger Woods has his fifth Masters title.
The 43-year-old Woods shot a 2-under 70 for a one-stroke victory Sunday and his 15th major championship. But it was his first since the 2008 U.S. Open, capping a remarkable recovery from debilitating injuries and embarrassing personal problems.
Woods showed he still had the game to compete with the world’s best when he triumphed in last year’s Tour Championship, his first victory of any kind since 2013.
Now, he’s back on top with his first green jacket at Augusta National since 2005.
In a final round that was played in threesomes off both tees to stay ahead of approaching thunderstorms, Woods grabbed the outright lead for the first time with a two-putt birdie at No. 15.
Then, with Olympic champion Michael Phelps standing behind him on the tee at the par-3 16th, Woods wrapped things up by sticking an 8-iron within 2 feet of the cup for another birdie and a two-stroke lead.
Francesco Molinari began the day with a two-shot advantage over Woods and Tony Finau. But the Italian self-destructed on the back side, dunking two balls in the water on the way to double-bogeys at the 12th and 15th holes.
This is the first time Woods has ever come from behind on the final day to win a major championship, leaving him three behind Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major titles.
Woods had a two-shot lead with two holes to play and was closing in on the title. He made back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16 to take the two-shot advantage over Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka.
The leaderboard changed so fast on the back nine it was hard to keep track of the leaders.
There was a a five-way tie for the lead in the final round with Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele, Brooks Koepka, Francesco Molinari and Woods all at 12-under. Jason Day and Rickie Fowler were one shot back.
Four contenders hit their tee shots at No. 12 into Rae’s Creek. Xander Schauffele and Tiger Woods stayed dry and were for the lead. Molinari, Tony Finau, Ian Poulter and Brooks Koepka all hit the water on the 155-yard par-3. All four made the same mistake, leaving their shot short and watching it roll down the hill into the water. That left an opening for Woods, who put his tee shot on the green. He made par to set put him in a three-way tie for the lead with Schauffele and Molinari.
Woods remained in contention to win with nine holes left to play in the final round. He was one shot behind leader Francesco Molinari, who is trying to win his second major. Woods played the front nine in 1-under while Molinari was even par for the day. Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau were two shots back.
Francesco Molinari’s lead was sliced to just one shot over Woods. Molinari made a bogey on No. 7 and Woods had a birdie for a two-shot swing. Molinari had gone 49 straight holes without a bogey before missing the 15-foot par putt. The bogey put Molinari at 12-under for the tournament and Woods it at 11-under.
Steady Francesco Molinari made par on his first five holes and had a three-shot lead. Woods briefly pulled one shot behind Molinari after a birdie on No. 3, but fell back to three behind after bogeys on Nos. 4 and 5.
Tony Finau, who played in the final group with Molinari and Woods, also bogeyed No. 5. Finau, Woods and Brooks Koepka were all three shots back. Patrick Cantlay and Ian Poulter were four shots behind.
Bryson DeChambeau made a hole-on-one on No. 16. DeChambeau was one of the co-leaders after Thursday’s first round after shooting a 66, but fell way off the pace with a 75 and 73 over the next two days.
His shot on the 170-yard hole hit the green well to the right of the hole, but had some backspin and slowly rolled left until it fell into the cup .
It’s DeChambeau’s first hole-in-one on tour.
The tournament’s final group — Francesco Molinari, Tony Finau and Tiger Woods — teed off at 9:20 a.m. All of them made par on the first hole.
The final round of the Masters was a race against the rain. A powerful line of thunderstorms that swept across the South over the past few days and the rain made it to the outskirts of Atlanta, which is approximately 145 miles to the west of Augusta. Conditions on Sunday morning at Augusta National weren’t bad, with overcast skies and relatively calm winds. But the weather was forecast to deteriorate as the day progressed, with wind building and a line of storms approaching by mid-afternoon. The leaders — Francesco Molinari, Tony Finau and Tiger Woods — were slated to tee off at 9:20 a.m.
Molinari had a two-shot lead over Finau and Woods at 13-under 203.
Francesco Molinari took a two-shot lead over Woods and Tony Finau into a first-ever Sunday morning start — threesomes off the first and 10th tees — with hopes of finishing the Masters ahead of severe storms in the forecast. Floodlights cast shadows on the practice range as players warmed up in darkness. Woods, trying to end 14 years without a green jacket, said he would be up by 4 a.m. to start stretching a body that has been slowed by four back surgeries. Woods, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson were among 10 players within five of the lead.