Michael Phelps had a front-row seat, and he’s still “speechless.”
Michael Jordan has been along for the ride throughout much of Tiger Woods’ career, yet called his latest Masters victory “the greatest comeback I’ve ever seen.”
That’s two pretty accomplished athletes — a 23-time Olympic gold medalist and a six-time NBA champion — still marveling at Woods, who at age 43 won his 15th career major Sunday at Augusta National.
“I took two years off to play baseball, but nothing like that,” Jordan told The Athletic’s David Aldridge. “I’m pretty sure he questioned himself, whether he could get it back, and he had to put a lot of work in. But he took it head-on.
“He had to change his game; he had to change his perspective a little bit. To me, it was the greatest comeback I’ve ever seen.”
Woods had well-documented personal issues, and health problems that have limited him on the course for years. He returned to the PGA Tour last year, contended in the season’s final two majors and won the Tour Championship.
All of that seemed to build to the past week at Augusta National. And when Woods arrived at the 16th hole Sunday with a one-shot lead, Phelps was there to soak it all in.
“I’m getting chills right now,” Phelps said to NBC Sports as he recounted Sunday’s final round. “The chance to see (Woods) at that place be able to come back when everybody counted him out ... It’s cool because I kind of have an idea of what that feels like, climbing back to the top of the mountain. Having a chance to see him do it on his terms with his kids there, I was speechless for two days.”
Before Sunday, Woods’ last major victory was the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. Now he’s three wins away from tying Jack Nicklaus’ record, something that seemed out of reach just 18 months ago.
“They (Woods’ opponents) got problems,” Jordan told The Athletic. “His confidence is only going to build from here.”