Tiger Woods wraps his son Charlie up in the sweetest Masters hug ever. His clapping daughter Sam would be next.
Tiger Woods and his girlfriend Erica Herman.
Tiger Woods first found some of his old magic at the British Open. Then, he showed a different side with his new girlfriend and his kids.
Brooks Koepka's girlfriend, Jena Sims, seemed beyond excited to have a brush with Tiger Woods.
When Tiger Woods wraps his son Charlie up in a hug and holds on, engulfing the skinny 10-year-old, all of America melts. This is what’s truly different about the most dominant golfer ever (sorry Jack, it’s true) this time. In winning his 15th major nearly 11 years after he walked away with his 14th, Woods tugs at the heartstrings like never before.
He comes across as so much more human now. The golfing Terminator robot is long gone. It’s not just that his body betrayed him, done in by his excessive demands and excessive appetites. It’s that he is a 43-year-old dad who now really seems to be playing to make his kids proud.
For Charlie, his son, and Sam, his 11-year-old daughter, get the first post Masters 18th green hugs — and they’re real hugs, full of emotion and love. Woods whispers something into his daughter’s ear when he embraces her right after Charlie rushes up to be first.
Back when he won majors at the rate that Donald Trump fires people, Woods always seemed to be in a hurry. But he isn’t rushing anywhere on the Sunday before Easter.
Instead, he’s truly enjoying the moment with his kids.
Tiger Woods played the dominant champion for years. He’s been the beyond valiant battler before too, winning the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. But he’s never been this sweet in victory.
“I think the kids are starting to understand what this game means to me,” Woods says afterwards, in a press conference broadcast around the globe. “Prior to this comeback, all they knew is that golf caused me a lot of pain.”
This is a remarkable comeback from four back surgeries and four knee surgeries. But great golfers have pulled off more incredible physical recoveries before. Ben Hogan’s return to championship form after a horrific car accident in 1949 — when medical technology wasn’t anywhere near what it is today — far surpasses Tiger Woods’ comeback in terms of pure guts and heroics.
Tiger Woods’ New Gum Life
Tiger’s return is about treasuring what you have — and holding onto the most important people in your life. That’s part of what makes it touch millions around the world, golfers and non-golfers alike, sports fans and non-sports fans.
This time, Tiger Woods truly shares his moment with the world.
He reveals that the reason he chomps gum throughout his four day journey around Augusta National is that he is much more hungry these days. These rounds drain him more than when he was younger. He needs the little sugar rush.
He gets a little friendly jab in at longtime foil Phil Mickelson when asked how much professional golf has changed over his 23 years on the PGA Tour. “Even Phil is working out (now),” Woods cracks. “It’s different.”
He is more vulnerable now. Anyone who’s over 40 knows that how you feel at 43 is another universe from how you felt at 23 or even 33. Woods does not try to hide this.
“I tell you one thing, I’m pretty sore right now,” he says. “I can promise you one thing. I’m not going to hit the golf ball tomorrow.”
Woods plans to play less events now — certainly less than he played last year when he teed it up for 18 official PGA events. You can forget any idea of Tiger ever playing in the Houston Open as long as the tournament is held in October (as I detailed back in January). Woods ends his season before the leaves turn in the East.
His Match Play appearance in Austin a few weeks ago figures to be the closest he’ll get for a good while. The PGA of America’s big move to Frisco heralds Texas majors to come, but that promised 2027 PGA Championship is a long ways off for a 43-year-old superstar.
That is another day’s discussion, though. This Masters one is about fathers and sons, and daughters. The golf media rushes to compare Tiger hugging Charlie to his father, Earl Woods, embracing Tiger after the phenom won his first green jacket by absolutely obliterating the rest of the field in 1997. But it is Woods’ daughter Sam whose name is a homage to Tiger’s own father, who died in 2006, a year before she was born.
Sam Alexis Woods — it’s just Sam, it’s not short for Samatha or anything else — carries her first name because that’s what Earl Woods used to call Tiger. When Tiger, given name Eldrick, asked him why the demanding dad shot back, “You look more like a Sam.”
Sam Woods was born the day after Father’s Day — and like her dad she’s an athlete. Though it’s much more soccer than golf for Tiger’s daughter.
And there is Sam on Masters Sunday getting the sweetest of dad hugs.
“My dad was here in 1997, now I’m the dad sharing it with my kids,” Tiger says.
Tiger’s mom Kultida and his now relatively longtime girlfriend, Erica Herman, also get hugs and kisses, but it is the moments with his children that give this Tiger Woods’ major win a real sweetness that the other 14 never managed.
This a whole different Tiger. Because it is a Tiger that is not just about a win.
Tiger Woods — the most transcendent athlete of his generation — has made sports fans experience so much over the years.
But on this Masters Sunday, a Masters Sunday like no other, he made everyone cry. And it felt so good — and so right.