To watch the Masters Tournament, held every spring at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, is to be caught between times. On the one hand, there is the usual 21st-century sports futurism, as in every golf tournament. Players are forever driving the ball farther with more refined equipment, the cameras that capture them do so in higher and higher definition, and tracing lines appear on-screen to track the flight of the ball. On the other hand, the Masters and its broadcast partners take pains to create the illusion that time’s forward march has been suspended, at least there. The same oversaturated shots of azaleas and pine trees appear annually, and announcers’ tranquil voices refer to the same scenes at Amen Corner and Butler Cabin. The patrons—not “fans,” pointedly—are barred from taking their cellphones onto the course.
On Sunday, the sense of temporal displacement was amplified by orders of magnitude. With a bogey putt on the 18th green that gave him a score of 13-under for the tournament, Tiger Woods won his fifth Masters and 15th major overall. At 43, he became the second-oldest winner in Masters history. It was his first victory at Augusta since 2005 and his first major title since 2008—before an infamous car crash, a public airing of the lurid details of his infidelity, four back surgeries, a DUI arrest, and numerous other ailments that threatened to permanently derail what once looked destined to be the most accomplished career in golf history. Asked to put the victory into words, Woods said, “Just unreal, to be honest with you … Winning [the first time] in ’97 and then come full circle 22 years later, to be able to do it again. This has meant so much to me and my family, this tournament, and to have everyone here, it’s something I’ll never, ever forget.” A chorus emerged, calling it one of the greatest comebacks in golf history.