Nearly a dozen years since his last major championship, Tiger Woods had been counted out by pretty much everyone.
Even Michael Jordan.
But as someone who’s endured as an example of doing whatever it takes to win, Jordan’s appreciation of what Woods did in winning the 2019 Masters should come as no surprise. The six-time NBA champion admits that he didn’t think Woods – coming off an ACL tear, a ruptured Achilles, countless back issues and more – would ever be able to gain the form necessary to win at Augusta National.
To Jordan, it’s “the greatest comeback” he’s ever witnessed.
“I never thought he’d get back physically,” Jordan told The Athletic after Woods’ triumph. “He didn’t think he’d get back physically. But he did it. No one expected him to be back the way he is now. He’s probably the only person who believed he could get back. To me, that’s a major accomplishment. To me, it’s unbelievable.
“Mentally, you always think you can. But you can’t answer to what your body has to deal with. … To me, it was the greatest comeback I’ve ever seen.”
That’s high praise coming from an athlete who’s often referred to as the GOAT in his own sport.
Jordan, who took two years off during his career to play baseball, noted how much more difficult it must’ve been for Woods to battle back after over a decade since his peak. “I’m pretty sure he questioned himself, whether he could get it back,” Jordan said, “and he had to put a lot of work in.”
Woods’ hard work paid off last Sunday with his fifth title at the Masters and 15th major overall. Can the 43-year-old catch up to Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors? Jordan won’t put it past him.
“They got problems,” Jordan said of other golfers on the PGA Tour. “His confidence is only going to build from here. The unknown is the biggest thing. You don’t know what Tiger’s capable of doing. He’s won a tour event [the Tour Championship]. He’s won the Masters. He’s won a major.”