TAKING THE FIFTH
Woods returns from rehab to cop fifth green jacket, one shy of Jack's Masters mark
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Ten months. It had been that long since anybody saw Tiger Woods hit a shot that mattered, going back to his U.S. Open playoff win last June. He went for surgery eight days later, dropped out of sight and guarded the details of his rehabilitation like a state secret.
And so reporters spilled out the doors of his Tuesday press conference at Augusta National. Was he 100 percent? Could he put full weight on the knee? Would he be the same Tiger?
Answers: Maybe, yes and definitely.
Although he called the Open at Torrey Pines his greatest win, Woods outdid even himself in winning his fifth green jacket Sunday.
Like last summer, he played his way into game shape, making up for the inevitable bad swings with his signature fireworks. Only this time he did so after a longer layoff, and on a new and still relatively foreign body part.
By bettering the field yet again, Woods, 33, surpassed Arnold Palmer with his fifth Masters victory and is just one shy of Jack Nicklaus's six. Woods now has 15 major titles, just three shy of Nicklaus's record mark.
Woods' knee looked strong all week, but he was as coy as ever when asked about its status on Sunday evening.
"It is what it is," Woods said.
Norman wins emotional Masters 13 years after giving away jacket for the last time
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Greg Norman, 54, is at an age when most professional golfers lose more sleep over their prostate than Amen Corner. He hadn't played Augusta National since finishing a desultory T36 in 2002. Three times he'd been second, without a win, the low point coming in 1996, when he lost a six-shot lead (and five more strokes) to Nick Faldo.
And yet Norman would be the first to tell you that funny things happen in golf, especially at Augusta. In a teary scene reminiscent of Ben Crenshaw's second Masters victory in 1995, the longtime bridesmaid Norman kept his emotions in check long enough to win his first Masters on Sunday, by one stroke over Tiger Woods.
"I don't believe it," Norman muttered, before breaking down and crying into a towel around his shoulders.
Chris Evert, Norman's wife, also dabbed at tears streaming down her cheeks, as did Faldo, who throughout the final round could be heard blowing his nose in the CBS announcers' booth.
Norman got into the field with his top-four finish (T3) at the British Open last summer.
This is his 21st season on the PGA Tour and marks his third major triumph, after the '86 and '93 British Opens. His 70th international win is his best Masters finish since a third in 1999.
Ireland's Harrington wins first green jacket, third consecutive major title
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Padraig Harrington used to be a nice player with a funny accent, a Ryder Cup ace, a friendly lad who wasn't destined to be remembered too far outside Dublin.
Then he won the wild 2007 British Open, and in so doing developed a nose for the finish line that has turned golf on its head.
On the heels of his wins at last summer's British Open and PGA, the 37-year-old has done it again, becoming a player for the ages with his first Masters title and third straight major victory at Augusta on Sunday.
He becomes the first player to win three straight majors since Tiger Woods in 2001, and with his fourth major passes contemporaries Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh.
Harrington's shining moment once again came at the expense of Sergio Garcia, who looked like a lock to salt away his first major. In miserable rain and wind that evoked Birkdale and Oakland Hills, Harrington got up and down three times from the pines to save par, allowing him to stay within three shots of Garcia going into the back nine.
That's where Harrington hit his stride, one-putting the final six greens. Garcia could only stand and watch. Harrington will go for his fourth straight major at New York's Bethpage Black in June. "I'm praying for rain," he said.