I'm not breaking any news when I tell you Tiger Woods winning the Masters this past weekend at Augusta National Golf Club was not only one of if not the biggest sports story so far in 2019, but one of the great redemption/comeback stories of all time in professional sports.
I'd like to tell you I was watching when Tiger sank that fateful, final putt ... but I wasn't. My living room television was busy giving a last-minute refresher of "Game of Thrones" before the final season started later Sunday night. But when I opened up Twitter during a lull in the action in Westeros, my jaw dropped.
Tiger had done it.
He'd really done it.
While I enjoy hitting the ball around, I am not the biggest fan of watching professional golf — in fact, since childhood I've maintained that nothing in the world makes for a better summer Sunday afternoon nap than an open window, a light breeze, a soft couch and professional golf on the TV — but like a lot of extremely casual fans, there's something about Tiger Woods that inevitably draws the eye.
People, myself included, just enjoy watching greatness, I suppose.
Which was what made this run at the Masters so enjoyable and such a huge story ... because while he had certainly been very good and the signs were all there for a possible return to the top of the golf world, it's been a long time since anybody could truly call Tiger Woods great. After all, Woods hadn't won a tournament championship in over a decade.
Historically speaking, I believe it will inevitably go down with some of the greatest career comebacks in sports history ... even if Tiger's troubles which caused his slide were largely self-inflicted.
Here are a few others with whom Tiger now shares that rare career comeback air ...
Quite possibly the most inexplicable, unlikely sports comeback of all time, former heavyweight boxing champion "Big George" retired in 1977 after having what he described as a post-fight, near-death experience leading him to God.
Seventeen years later, 45-year-old Foreman campaigned for and was granted a heavyweight championship fight against 27-year-old champion Michael Moorer, was outclassed by Moorer for most of the night, and then stunned the younger fighter with a right to the chin for a knockout, making Foreman the oldest heavyweight champion in boxing history as he regained the title he had lost to Muhammad Ali in 1974.
A juicier story than anything you could cook up on his gimmick grill ...
A lot like Woods but extreme in different ways, the former No. 1 tennis player and worldwide celebrity Agassi's messy personal life completely imploded his career. His ranking sank to the mid-100s by 1997.
Rededicating himself, Agassi responded in 1998 by winning five titles and climbing all the way back to No. 6 in the world rankings. In 1999, he returned to being the No. 1-rated men's tennis player in the world and to this day is probably the sport's biggest and most recognizable star.
I may not be a fan, but there's no denying Jordan belongs on any list of greatest comebacks after retiring from the NBA In 1993, pursuing a career in professional baseball in the White Sox organization, then suddenly returning to the Chicago Bulls late in the 1994-95 season with the two-word press release: "I'm back."
I doubt any of you don't already know how that turned out — three more back-to-back-to-back titles for the Bulls before another retirement and then another, less-memorable unretirement in 2001 that is better left not mentioned (and rarely is by MJ fans).
A pitcher for the Dodgers, John was having the best year of his career (13-3 with a 2.59 ERA) in 1974 when his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) ripped away from the bone in his elbow, effectively ending his career until a revolutionary surgery which still bears his name allowed him to return to pitching.
He came back in 1976 and incredibly pitched until 1989, recording more wins in the years after his surgery (164) than those before (124).
If there's a Mount Rushmore of professional golf, Hogan is one of the guys Woods would be trying to bump off ... and incredibly Hogan is one with a comeback story every bit as compelling.
Ultimately winning 63 pro tournaments, Hogan in 1949 at the age of 36 was involved in a car collision with a Greyhound bus on a Texas bridge. His body shattered, Hogan was told he may never walk again, but he rehabbed and returned to the PGA Tour in 1950 and in 1953 became the first player ever to win three majors in the same calendar year.
The only other one to do it?
In 2000. It was Tiger Woods.