Tiger Woods on Masters victory: ‘It’s going to take a bit of time to sink in’

Updated 12:15 PM EDT, Mon April 15, 2019
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 14: Tiger Woods (R) of the United States is awarded the Green Jacket by Masters champion Patrick Reed (L) during the Green Jacket Ceremony after winning the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 14: Tiger Woods (R) of the United States is awarded the Green Jacket by Masters champion Patrick Reed (L) during the Green Jacket Ceremony after winning the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Now playing
02:09
Tiger Woods completes comeback to win Masters
An unidentified tennis player exercises in her hotel room in Melbourne in January 17, 2021, where players are quarantining for two weeks ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament. (Photo by William WEST / AFP) (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)
An unidentified tennis player exercises in her hotel room in Melbourne in January 17, 2021, where players are quarantining for two weeks ahead of the Australian Open tennis tournament. (Photo by William WEST / AFP) (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: WILLIAM WEST/AFP/AFP via Getty Images
Now playing
03:32
Australian Open: Controversy surrounds tournament as players complain of lack of practice
PHOENIX, AZ - FEBRUARY 12: Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors shoots a free throw during the game against the Phoenix Suns on February 12, 2020 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - FEBRUARY 12: Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors shoots a free throw during the game against the Phoenix Suns on February 12, 2020 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Michael Gonzales/NBAE/Getty Images
Now playing
02:44
'They're not protesters, they're terrorists:' The NBA reacts strongly to the US Capitol riot
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Marcus Rashford of Manchester United scores his team
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Marcus Rashford of Manchester United scores his team's second goal from the penalty spot during the Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on July 04, 2020 in Manchester, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Dave Thompson/Pool via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Pool/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
Now playing
01:20
Marcus Rashford on Manchester United getting penalties
PHOTO: Elizabeth Williams
Now playing
04:03
The WNBA Dream that turned into a political triumph
CARSON, CA - FEBRUARY 07: Megan Rapinoe #15 of the United States takes a corner kick during the 2020 CONCACAF Women
CARSON, CA - FEBRUARY 07: Megan Rapinoe #15 of the United States takes a corner kick during the 2020 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying against Mexico at Dignity Health Sports Park on February 7, 2020 in Carson, California. the United States defeated Mexico, 4-0, and qualified for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Now playing
01:03
Megan Rapinoe condemns US Capitol rioters as 'White supremacist mob'
A man walks along a corridor past an official Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics advertisement board in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo on November 30, 2020. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP) (Photo by PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images)
A man walks along a corridor past an official Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics advertisement board in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo on November 30, 2020. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP) (Photo by PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: PHILIP FONG/AFP/AFP via Getty Images
Now playing
03:32
Olympic prep continues in Tokyo despite Covid-19 state of emergency
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods
PHOTO: WALTER IOOSS, JR. FOR foureleven.agency / HBO
Now playing
03:42
'He's not going to like this sh*t at all': Documentary shines new light on Tiger Woods
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JANUARY 04: Head coach Doc Rivers of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on in a game against the Charlotte Hornets at Wells Fargo Center on January 04, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - JANUARY 04: Head coach Doc Rivers of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on in a game against the Charlotte Hornets at Wells Fargo Center on January 04, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Now playing
00:59
Doc Rivers on DC riots: 'Could you imagine today, if those were all Black people?'
OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Bruce Maxwell #13 of the Oakland Athletics kneels in protest next to teammate Mark Canha #20 duing the singing of the National Anthem prior to the start of the game against the Texas Rangers at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on September 24, 2017 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 24: Bruce Maxwell #13 of the Oakland Athletics kneels in protest next to teammate Mark Canha #20 duing the singing of the National Anthem prior to the start of the game against the Texas Rangers at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on September 24, 2017 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
Now playing
05:03
Bruce Maxwell took a knee and then his life unravelled in Trump's America
PHOTO: Thais Magalhães/CBF
Now playing
01:41
Animals ruled the sporting world in 2020
PHOTO: Luke Willett
Now playing
01:14
Speed golf is the form of the game you never knew you needed
emily harrington el capitan free climb record golden gate woman equality spt intl lon orig cmd_00000000.png
emily harrington el capitan free climb record golden gate woman equality spt intl lon orig cmd_00000000.png
Now playing
02:58
Emily Harrington makes history on El Capitan
PHOTO: Instagram / Silky.ZigZag
Now playing
02:52
Silke Sollfrank wants to encourage more women to take up parkour
PHOTO: Samaritan's Purse
Now playing
02:21
Cameron Dobbs' Christmas drive to help disadvantaged youth around the world
In this Tuesday, May 24, 2016 file photo an employee of the Russia
In this Tuesday, May 24, 2016 file photo an employee of the Russia's national drug-testing laboratory holds a vial in Moscow, Russia. It was at this laboratory, and its former site elsewhere in Moscow, that lab director Grigory Rodchenkov conducted pioneering research into steroids, at the same time as he says he was giving Russian athletes a "cocktail" of banned substances.
PHOTO: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP
Now playing
00:56
Russia's four-year doping ban reduced to two
(CNN) —  

“Surreal.”

That is how Tiger Woods attempted to describe an extraordinary Sunday. A fifth green jacket, his first major win in 11 years; a story that the world had resigned itself to never seeing again.

It has already been coined by many as the greatest sporting comeback of them all – a journey that has included career-saving spinal fusion surgery and a tumultuous series of personal problems that threatened to bring an end to the career of a golfing icon.

READ: How Tiger Woods’$2 15th major has Jack Nicklaus ‘shaking in his boots’

Woods celebrates after sinking the putt that clinched a fifth Masters title -- 14 years after his last.
Woods celebrates after sinking the putt that clinched a fifth Masters title -- 14 years after his last.
PHOTO: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

As he completed a composed two-putt on the 18th for – almost certainly – the greatest bogey of his distinguished career, he thrust his arms aloft, his club above his head. He gave a trademark fist-pump, before taking the acclaim of his playing partners, all accompanied by a fervent roar from an adoring public.

Then, he found his family. It was an image for the ages – the completion of a cycle that many feared would never reach its natural end. Woods famously embraced his late father Earl after winning his first Masters in 1997. Now, Woods – the father – was embracing his children, his mother, his girlfriend and anyone else in his vicinity.

“I did the same thing to my dad and now I’m the dad with my son doing the same thing,” he reflected to CNN’s Andy Scholes. “It’s amazing how life evolves, changes.

“That was 22 years ago, when my dad was there and then now my son’s there, my daughter was there, my mom’s there. My mom was there 22 years ago and the fact that she’s still around, still kicking, still fighting, goes to show you her resiliency.

“It’s hard to comprehend right now. I mean, honestly it’s only been a few hours out of winning the tournament. I’m still trying to enjoy it and figure out that I actually won it.

“I know I have the green jacket on but it’s just, it’s still, I think it’s going to take a little bit of time to sink in.”

Visit CNN.com/Sport for more news, features and video

The battle for glory

Midway through Woods’ fourth round, it was a dream that looked like coming up short. Francesco Molinari – the American’s scourge at the 2018 Open Championship – looked like holding him off yet again.

But as the Italian found water on the perilous 12th hole and Woods located the heart of the green, it represented a changing of the tide rarely seen. A path opened up and the atmosphere on the famous old course changed as Augusta’s patrons began not just to hope, but to believe.

Woods, of course, had never lost faith. Champions always believe, and there have been few serial winners more ruthless than this golfer, whose significance has long-since transcended the game of golf.

“I did think it would come,” the 43-year-old told CNN of his everlasting dreams of a 15th major.

His battle with Molinari at Carnoustie had given him that belief. He had also finished second behind Brooks Koepka at Bellerive in the 2018 PGA Championship.

READ: Tiger Woods: I don’t need to win the Masters, but I really want to’

“I knew it was in me, now did I know it was going to be this week? No. But I had a good feeling that the way I was shaping the golf ball that I was going to be in the mix,” Woods, who will now climb to No.6, added.

“Now being in the mix and winning a championship are two totally different things. The last two major championships, yeah I was in the mix, but I didn’t win.

“It all flipped at 12 you know when Franky made a mistake there. He just let everyone back in the tournament. And with six or seven guys with a chance to win the championship it got a little complicated but fortunately I was able to hit some of my best golf shots all week.”

Catching Nicklaus…

Sunday’s thrilling victory puts the former world No.1 just three majors behind the all-time record of Jack Nicklaus.

Only fellow American Nicklaus has won more Masters, with six. Woods also joins Nicklaus as the only player to have won the Masters in three different decades after he clinched his first as a 21-year-old in 1997.

“It’s overwhelming just because of what has transpired,” Woods added in the Green Jacket ceremony in the Butler Cabin.

“Last year I was very lucky to be playing again. At the previous Champions Dinner I was really struggling and missed a couple of years of not playing this great tournament and now I’m the champion.”

“It’s been an epic Sunday here at the Masters and a great day for golf, just one of the most amazing days in our history,” said Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley.

Greatest ever?

Many wrote off Woods’ career as the injuries took their toll on his form, world ranking – he plunged to outside the top 1,000 in 2017 – and quality of life.

He admits he struggled with everyday tasks such as getting out of bed, driving and taking his kids to school, and is widely reported to have confided at the pre-Masters Champions Dinner a couple of years ago: “I’m done.”

But after seeing a specialist in England, Woods underwent fusion surgery, his fourth back procedure, in the US. However, if things looked bleak from a playing point of view, Woods looked to have hit rock bottom when he was arrested on a driving under the influence charge in May 2017. He pleaded guilty to reckless driving and was put on a diversion program, but from that nadir, Woods’ trajectory has reached sky high.

On doctor’s advice he made a tentative return to hitting golf balls at home in late August 2017, and returned to the circuit in 2018 with remarkable success,. He briefly led the Open at Carnoustie before finishing second to Koepka in the US PGA and winning the Tour Championship for his 80th PGA Tour title, just two behind the record of Sam Snead.

And now this.

“This will be up there with one of the hardest I’ve had to win because of what transpired over the last couple of years,” he added.

“it was just an amazing buzz out there, trying to figure out what was going on but to stay present and focused on what i was trying to do. I kind of liked it.”