Twenty years after his “Tiger Slam”, a Grand Slam straddling two years, Tiger Woods, recovering from his serious car accident, will not be at the Augusta Masters on Thursday, where it all began for his prodigious career now in limbo. .
From his home in Florida, between two rehabilitation sessions, after his multiple fractures to his right leg and ankle, caused by his off the road and his barrel rolls on February 23 on a road near Los Angeles, the man with 15 major coronations regretted not being able to be present at the Champions dinner on Tuesday. “One of my favorite evenings of the year. »He will surely have a heavy heart at the time of tee-time.
This is the fourth time since 1995 that Woods will miss this meeting which is so dear to him. Delicate back operations had forced him to forfeit in 2014, 2016 and 2017, without anyone believing him capable of a comeback as resounding as the one successful in 2019.
READ ALSO – The triumph of Tiger Woods, exceptional champion
READ ALSO – Masters Augusta: Tiger Woods rises from the ashes
That year, he won his 5th Masters at 43. Certainly the most moving of all, evidenced by the embrace with his children Charlie and Sam, on the same green of hole N.18 where, 22 years earlier, his father Earl hugged him. This April 13, 1997 became the one where for the first time an African-American golfer, also Asian through his Thai mother, triumphed at the Augusta National Golf Club, located in the old “cotton belt” of Georgia and which very long evidence of discrimination against blacks.
That this place was the scene of his first feat, gave it great symbolic value. And in front of 43 million Americans riveted in front of their television screens – golf never did better in terms of audiences -, the young phenomenon did not fail to underline it after having donned the famous jacket given to the winner, suggesting: “the green and black go well together, don’t they? ”.
READ ALSO – Masters: a return to normality to let the magic of Augusta National Golf Club operate
On Thursday, Augusta will pay tribute to another black golfer, Lee Elder, who was the first to participate in the event and will launch the 2021 edition, alongside honorary member Jack Nicklaus, Woods’ mentor to the six Masters and 18 Grand Slams. . “Lee was a pioneer. He’s the one who broke the color barrier here and paved the way for players like me to participate in the tournament. he did it in 1975, I was born in ’75, and when I won in ’97 he was at the back of the green, ”Woods recalled last year.
The “Tiger” will not be there this year to witness this symbolic moment, on this course where twenty years earlier he achieved another immense feat of this sport. After triumphing at the US Open, then the British Open and the PGA Championship in 2000, he again won the Masters in stride in 2001.
“A return to Augusta?”
In short, a “false” Grand Slam, which to be “true” must be successful over the same calendar year, but which was called the “Tiger Slam”. “I don’t think I’ve ever accomplished anything this great,” he commented then. 25-year-old Woods conceded having been “a little naive” in his appreciation of his first victory in 1997 and finally assured “understand”.
“I know better what a major coronation represents, so winning four in a row is just hard to believe. You need your game to reach its peak at the right time, luck with you, and everything to go well. And let it happen four times in a row. The gods of golf were with me, ”he explained. In a way, luck also accompanied him, a month and a half ago, during his accident. Because he could have died there.
READ ALSO – Off the road… towards retirement for Tiger Woods
His rehabilitation will take time and the way back to the greens will be long, with no guarantee that he will succeed. But Woods and his 82 wins on the PGA Tour, a record jointly held with the legendary Sam Snead, will undoubtedly do everything to add the most beautiful there is, playing again next year at Augusta. Who would be a little more the land of his greatest exploits.