For all his amateurish mistakes, the most gracious moment of golf’s final major of the year came when Tiger Woods gathered himself on the green, on the verge of a well-deserved meltdown, and pulled a quarter-clawed club from his bag. He barely swung it, he barely made contact, but the reaction as he powered toward his ball was an equal measure of timing and luck — a celebration befitting his career.
After 15 successive major championships missing a piece of the golf world’s gnarliest hardware — an Open or a Masters — Mr. Woods, on Thursday, reached the second summit of his career. He beat the tournament’s overnight leader, Rory McIlroy, 4 and 2, with two match play matches earlier in the day cementing a shock victory. It was his first at a major since 2008, his last before a knee surgery that forced him to miss the rest of the year. “It’s funny, how quickly all the emotions go by,” Mr. Woods said as he clutched the silver Claret Jug, which his young son yelled with excitement.
This title has been decades in the making for Mr. Woods, a 40-year-old who still has more than $1 billion in career earnings. He has claimed the No. 1 spot in the world golf rankings many times but has never won a major championship. His schedule this year has been marred by injuries, mental stumbles and the side effects of lingering back surgery.