In mid-2014, Tiger Woods was practising his short game in his backyard, he stroked a flop shot over a bunker and fell flat on his back in agony. The pain was so severe that he could hardly breathe, let alone get back on his feet. Days earlier, the then 38-year-old shot the worst fourth round score of his life: a 78 at the Cadillac Championship. And as he lay there, out of hearing distance and without his cellphone, there was only one thing the world’s greatest golfer could do: wait patiently – only for his seven year old daughter to come to his rescue.
This is one of many personal tribulations the golfer has faced, documented in greater detail in the brilliant biography by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian, “Tiger Woods”. Now, eleven years since his last major win, the 43-year-old has bagged a fifth green jacket at the US Masters. But is Tiger’s Masters comeback the best in the history of sport? The answer isn’t an easy one, with one having to stack up hundreds of achievements across various eras to get to the bottom of it.
Here are four all-time great sporting comebacks to challenge Tiger’s Masters win:
Niki Lauda’s F1 Runer-Up After Nürburgring Crash
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Feat: Niki Lauda was back racing six weeks after waking up from a coma.
Legendary Formula 1 driver Niki Lauda was on his way to winning his second F1 World Championship Title when he lost control of his Ferarri at the Nürburgring circuit in Germany. Lauda was coming around a bend when his Ferrari veered into a wall and burst into flames (see video below). Lauda suffered severe burns which put him into a coma, and a priest was even summoned to his bedside to read him his last rites. But just 43 days later he returned to the track, with the Austrian placing second in the championship behind James Hunt.
Muhammad Ali Reclaims His Title
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Feat: Muhammad Ali reclaimed the World Heavyweight Title after he was stripped of it.
The late Muhammad Ali had his boxing license suspended because he refused to be drafted to war in Vietnam in 1966. The World Heavyweight Champion was effectively banned from boxing from 1967 to 1970. The ban meant Ali arguably missed the prime of his career. In 1971 Ali attempted to regain his title in what’s now known as the ‘Fight of the Century’ against Joe Frazier. The fight saw Ali suffer the first loss of his career, losing by unanimous decision.
His comeback eventually came in 1974, when the odds were against him in what’s known as the Rumble of the Jungle against George Foreman. Ali pulled off one of the greatest upsets of all time, knocking out Foreman in the eighth round and reclaiming his World Heavyweight Championship title, seven years after he was stripped of it.
Andre Agassi Goes From 141 to the world’s best
Feat: Andre Agassi went from world no.141 to no.1 in two years.
It’s no secret that Andre Agassi hates tennis, a statement which is drawn out in his autobiography, ‘Open’. But for someone that hates the game, he is arguably one of the greatest to ever play it, first reaching the world no.1 spot in 1995. But personal problems saw the now 43-year-old fall out of the world top 100 rankings in 1997 to no.141, with pundits predicting he would end his career with a mere three Grand Slams.
But Agassi let the numbers do the talking, when just two years later he grabbed the world number one spot. This was after a spectacular 1999 season, which saw him reach the Wimbledon finals and win both the French Open and the US Open.
Liverpool’s Champion’s Title League Win
Feat: Liverpool FC win the Uefa Champions League, coming back from 3-0 down.
It’s known as one of the most thrilling Uefa Champions League finals of all time. Liverpool looked as if they were on their way to defeat as Italian giants AC Milan led by three goals at halftime. The English then went on to score three goals in the space of just six minutes to draw level. Liverpool then beat the Italian favourites a further 3-2 on penalties.
There’s only so much we can tell you about this one, check out the epic highlight reel for yourself:
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