It was not surprising the majority of the world is overjoyed that Tiger Woods is no longer on the endangered species list.
The world -- especially this great country we live in -- loves to forgive, and on Sunday grown men tweeted out that they were crying as Woods made his way to the clubhouse amid many hugs and congratulations.
To err is human. To forgive is divine.
Fourteen years ago, the last time Woods won the Masters, there were a couple of "good jobs" thrown his way after his accomplishment. But back then he was the undisputed king of golf, and quite honestly he acted like it.
He was aloof, arrogant and apparently thought he was invincible.
Then came the car wreck, him beaten to a pulp by his ex-wife, the international headlines of his indiscretions, and the divorce that cost him $100 million and endorsements from AT&T, Buick and Gillette.
He played well for two more years, winning several tournaments, but he was changing in front of our very eyes.
He was getting bigger and stronger. Too big and too strong.
Health problems wrecked his game, and in 2016-2017 he was average at best. He withdrew from several tournaments, and after his fourth back surgery -- he already had undergone countless hours of therapy -- he thought his days as a golfer were finished.
He didn't quit though, and last year things started to change -- just not as quickly as he and the world of golf thought it should. Afterall, he was the best.
When he was ranked 1,199th in the world, most thought he was finished, but last year he finished one back in the Valspar Championship. It was his first top-five finish since 2013.
In the Masters, he finished tied for 32nd. Middle of the pack is not what anyone expected, and then he missed the cut at the U.S. Open. When he said he was improving, few if any believed him.
Then he tied for sixth in the British Open, and closed the 2018 majors by finishing second in the PGA Championship.
He capped last season by winning the Tour Championship in September in Atlanta.
The general feeling was that was a great accomplishment for a man who turned pro in 1996 and is now 42.
Only Woods was just starting to get back into the grove.
On Thursday, the opening day of the Masters, social media was filled with, "Tiger is only two back."
For the first time in five years at Augusta, he was a factor. On Saturday, with forecasts of severe thunderstorms set for Sunday afternoon, the Masters folks wisely announced they were moving the final round to an early morning start and going with groups of three instead of pairings.
Woods said he didn't care what time he had to get up. And he didn't.
He embraced the course. Whether it was a shot that drew a loud "aaaah" of approval from a crowd that was growing by the minute or an average shot, Woods quietly returned to his place behind the other golfers.
In a pack. Like a challenger instead of the undisputed champion.
Like a man who had looked back long and hard and saw too many mistakes.
Like a man who had regrets, and around him it was obvious the golfers sensed it as they chatted with him between shots.
The old Tiger was him and his caddie against the world.
Sunday's Tiger was happy to be alive and on the golf course.
At Amen Corner, which had left previous leader Francesco Molinari with a double bogey, Woods cleared the water, made a par and the corner had been turned. Three birdies and two pars allowed for a bogey on No. 18 and another green jacket, and more hugs than anyone would have imagined.
Sports on 04/16/2019
Print Headline: WALLY HALL: Tiger's forgiven; Sunday won't be forgotten