Hannable: Sunday showed Tiger Woods, not Tom Brady or anyone else, is most compelling athlete of this generation

Ryan Hannable
April 14, 2019 - 3:31 pm

People don’t often change their schedules for athletes, but Sunday was different and it was different because of Tiger Woods.

Because of severe weather coming in during the afternoon in Augusta, Georgia, tee times were forced to be moved to the morning and CBS’ coverage began five hours earlier — 9 a.m. instead of 2 p.m. And with Woods entering the day just two behind third-round leader Francesco Molinari, many across America changed their Sunday morning/afternoon plans just so they could see Tiger.

And he delivered.

Thanks to back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16, Woods propelled himself into the lead and didn’t look back as strolled up to 18 green with a two-shot lead and ultimately won by one stroke at 13-under over three others. Then came a celebration unlike any other we’ve ever seen before from Woods where showed more emotion than in any of his other major titles combined.

The 43-year-old's career and life came full circle when he was able to hug his two kids — Sam and Charlie — just off the green just like he hugged his dad after his first Masters win in 1997.

It was his 15th career major and fifth career Masters, but his first Masters title since 2005. It's the longest span in between Masters wins by any player in history. But, it was what has taken place in all that time in between wins that was what made this the best win of his entire career and what made the entire country, golf fans or not, interested.

According to CBS Sports, Saturday’s third round was the highest-rated Saturday golf telecast on any network in the last four years, and you better believe Sunday’s numbers will deliver the same, and likely more.

By now, everyone knows what Woods has gone through off the course with his personal life and to his credit, he’s owned it. And it isn’t just the personal issues that held him back, it was also his health.

Woods had four back surgeries in three years, including a spinal fusion that prevented him from swinging a club for six months, and just two years ago at the champions dinner at Augusta National he told people he was ready to give up the game.

He could barely walk. He couldn’t even play soccer in the backyard with his kids. And now, several years later, he’s a Masters champion once again. 

There’s no question there are many turned off by Woods and his personal life actions, which can be understood, but the way he’s fought back the past several years is something that cannot be explained. 

Woods went from being so close to giving up the game, to winning The Tour Championship last year, his first overall win in five years, to seven months later winning the most important tournament in all of golf.

It’s his comeback and backstory that make him so compelling. He also serves as a real-life example that even when things appear like they cannot get any worse, hard work, persistence and determination can eventually pay off.

Back in the 2000s, Woods was the greatest player in the sport and then personal life issues and injuries got in the way, and now he’s back on top. 

Think about it like this: Imagine if Tom Brady had the same career in the early 2000s, but then had something occur that forced him to leave the game for five or so years, including personal issues like Woods had, and then he won MVP of the Super Bowl.

It’s not apples to apples, but it’s the drama surrounding him that makes him so compelling and attracts the casual fan. It’s hard to imagine this many casual fans, not just in one sector of the country, but all over, watching a sporting event for Brady, LeBron James, etc.

It’s the Tiger effect. There’s no one else like him.

Related: Tiger Woods wins Masters, his first major championship since 2008

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