Golf: Epic Masters win a family affair for Tiger Woods

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Tiger Woods celebrates with his family after winning the 2019 Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, on April 14, 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

AUGUSTA, UNITED STATES (AFP) - Tiger Woods finally showed his children why their father kept fighting through pain trying to swing golf clubs, his victory Sunday (April 14) at the Masters literally a win for all ages.

Woods captured his 15th major title, and first since the 2008 US Open, with a one-stroke victory at Augusta National for his fifth Masters green jacket.

"It's special to me, to my friends and family," Woods said. "And I think everyone who was here got a chance to witness something that was amazing."

It also was the first time daughter Sam Alexis, 11, and son Charlie, 10, have seen their famous father win a major title except in videos.

"For them to see what it's like to have their dad win a major championship, I hope that's something they will never forget," Woods said. "I hope they are proud of their dad."

The moment allowed Woods, who famously hugged his late father Earl off the 18th green at Augusta after his first major win in 1997, to re-enact the moment Sunday but as the 43-year-old father, hugging his kids.

"This has meant so much to me and my family. It's something I'll never ever forget," Woods said. "To have them there and then now to have them see their Pops win, just like my Pops saw me win here, it's pretty special."

Earl Woods, who died in 2006 at age 74, taught Tiger how to golf and defied doctors to watch his son at the 1997 Masters.

"My dad shouldn't have come in '97. He had heart complications and wasn't supposed to fly," Woods said. "But he flew and came. Gave me a putting lesson on Wednesday night and the rest is history."

Woods also hugged his mother Kultida, a 75-year-old Thai woman who nurtured and toughened Tiger as a youth.

"It's amazing. It's 22 years. Life goes on. There's one continuity. My mom was there," Woods said. "I said, 'We did it. I love you so much, mom.'"

Woods recalled her devotion when his glory was only a dream.

"She's driving me to the tournaments when I'm 11 years old, the pee wee tournaments when I start at 7 a.m. and she's unfolding the road map. She did all that," Woods said.

"She's always there. She's always present in every round I play."

Woods battled chronic back pain for years before undergoing a last-chance spinal fusion surgery in 2017 that enabled him to return to peak golf form and be able to play with his children.

"The kids are starting to understand how much golf means to me and some of the things I've done in the game," Woods said.

"Prior to comeback, they only knew golf caused me a lot of pain. If I tried to swing a club I would be on the ground and struggled for years and that's basically all they remember.

"Luckily I've had the procedure where that's no longer the case. We're creating new memories for them and it's just very special."

Woods said his children's love helped him withstand the down times when he feared even walking without pain.

"It means the world to me, their love and support," Woods said. "I just can't say enough about how much that meant to me throughout my struggles when I had a really hard time moving around, just the infectousness of their happiness. I was going through a tough time physically.

"I was very fortunate to be given another chance to do something I love to do, but more importantly, I've been able to participate in my kids' lives in a way that I couldn't for a number of years.

"For a while there I couldn't even walk. Now I'm able to play golf again and do it at an elite level. I'm just very blessed to be able to have that opportunity again."

Woods has no doubt where his most meaningful trip with the green jacket will come - his son's school class.

"I'm excited about show and tell at school," Woods said.

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