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Tiger Woods emerges from turbulent decade to claim incredible fifth Masters crown

Suits you, Tiger:
Woods with the green
jacket after he won
his fifth Masters title
at Augusta yesterday

THIS was a day for the Augusta annals, as special a moment as the old place has ever known.

It wasn’t long ago we wondered whether Tiger Woods would have to stop playing the game completely.

But for him to emerge from all his injury problems and personal scandals, and rule the golfing world again with this Masters triumph, will go down as a staggering achievement.

Family affair: Victorious Woods hugs his daughter Sam while his mother Kultida, son Charlie and girlfriend Erica look on

Woods went close at the Open Championship and US PGA last year but a first major since the 2008 US Open was something else entirely — on a par with the Jack Nicklaus win in 1986 at the age of 46.

Lest we forget Woods himself is 43, just the latest player in his 40s to claim a major this decade.

The march to a fifth green jacket and 15th major yesterday was very reminiscent of his dominant years. The American was simply relentless and inspired when it mattered as his rivals for the title fell away.

This was a Masters Sunday with a difference. Players went out early in the morning in an attempt to beat the storms that were heading for Georgia.

Italian Francesco Molinari began his final round two shots clear of Woods. The Open champion started well enough, with one birdie and one bogey on the front nine seeing him stay in front.

Taking a drop: Molinari fell away

But he twice found water on the back nine, at the 12th and 15th, and signed for double bogeys on both.

As the day went on, and as nobody grabbed the tournament by the scruff of the neck, Woods sensed his chance. Birdies at the seventh and eighth showed his intent, and after dropping a shot on the tenth, he really made his charge. A birdie on 13 took him to 12 under and another on the long 15th took him into the lead.

With Woods by now a clear favourite, he turned the screw with a magical tee shot into the 16th, which left him a short putt for another birdie, taking him two clear at 14 under. He just needed to hold his nerve now.

A safe par at 17, and missed birdie putt for Brooks Koepka at 18, virtually sealed the deal. Woods could afford to take a bogey five at the last and win by one from Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele.

Molinari finished two shots behind on 11 under, alongside Jason Day, Webb Simpson and Tony Finau.

American Patrick Cantlay, who for around five minutes led the field, closed for the week on ten under, with Jon Rahm and Rickie Fowler.

Ian Poulter played alongside Woods on Saturday, where he put himself into contention with a 68 to move to nine under. The Englishman was going along nicely enough yesterday too, until a bogey on 11 and double bogey on 12 saw him fall away.

But this day was all about Woods. Could the rejuvenated sporting icon now have a real go at that record of 18 majors held by Nicklaus? All things seem possible again.

■ BRYSON DeChambeau and Justin Thomas both struck holes-in-one at the 16th on the final day. The American pair hit their tee shots to the right of the pin and saw the balls spin into the hole. DeChambeau admitted earlier in the week, when going close to an ace at 16, that he had never made a hole-in-one in his career.

Hovland becomes Augusta’s amateur Viktor at 21

NORWAY’S Viktor Hovland finished as low amateur for the week, with his third successive round of 71 leaving him three under for the week. Hovland, 21, won the US Amateur last year, earning him an invitation to three majors this year. ‘I wasn’t consistent enough to shoot a really low number, but I’m proud that I was able to kind of grind it out,’ he said.