Longtime teaching pro Greg Silva was outside giving a free clinic to Northern California Golf Association members when he heard a roar from the River Oaks clubhouse in Ceres.
Gary Condit, an employee at the golf course and a four-year standout at Ceres High, had his eyes glued to the television inside as Tigers Woods tapped in a putt on the 18th hole at Augusta National to win the Masters on April 14.
Woods completed one of the greatest comebacks in professional sports.
“Last year, I said he’d win a major in 2019,” Silva stated. “People thought I was nuts. He proved everybody wrong. It made my whole year.”
“I remember watching the Masters in 2005,” Condit said. “I was 5. I was in awe. Ever since then, I adored the guy. Tiger is a great ambassador to the game. His will to win is what people are attracted to. He’s the reason most people play golf. He’s bigger than any other athlete in any other sport.”
Woods won the Masters for the fifth time, first since 2005.
He claimed his 15th major championship, first since 2008.
He earned his 80th victory on the PGA Tour, two shy of the career record held by Sam Snead.
“Now he’s got a shot at breaking Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors if he stays healthy and mentally into it,” Silva said. “How is anybody going to stop him unless his back gives him problems?”
“I still think he can have all the records,” Condit said.
Silva and Condit both watched a replay of the Masters when they got home from work.
They marveled at Woods’ performance.
“It gave me goosebumps,” said Silva, who got choked up while watching Woods hug his two children at the conclusion of the tournament.
“It’s the most memorable tournament I’ve watched,” Condit said. “I can see him winning a few more majors this year. It’s good for the game of golf.”
“In the last five to six years, golf hasn’t been as popular,” Silva said. “When he won the FedEx last year, it pumped $13 billion into the golf world. We need that man. He’s a phenomenon.”
Woods was beset by injuries and personal problems during his drought.
“I got so sick and tired of people bashing the man,” Silva said. “Everyone is human. Nobody is perfect. He learned from his mistakes.”
“I wrote him a fan letter when I was eight years old and told him to keep his head up and I was praying for him,” Condit said.
Condit will watch Woods play at the 2019 U.S. Open this July at Pebble Beach.
“My aunt got me tickets for my birthday,” he said. “I’m crossing my fingers he does well. I’ve been a loyal Tiger fan since I was a kid. He changed the game when he came onto the scene. He was so dominant for over a decade. Other than my dad, Tiger is the reason I play golf.”
“I saw him play a couple times,” Silva said. “I ran into him at Pebble Beach having dinner by himself. I got him to sign a couple magazines. He’s my favorite golfer of all time. He’s the greatest to play the game. Nobody is going to dispute that, not even Nicklaus.”