The Greatest Comeback: Tiger Woods’ 2019 Masters win or Niki Lauda’s two F1 world championships?
Drew Goodsell | 8 June 2020
Which of our memorable comebacks gets your vote in our poll?
Our hunt for the greatest sporting comeback of all time continues, with another pair of unbelievable comebacks from one of the all-time golf greats, and a former F1 star driver.
We’ve looked at some great moments already, including Manchester United’s 1999 Champions League final victory, Tyson Fury’s rise back to the top and Ian Botham’s Headingley heroics.
But of today’s two memorable sporting moments, which will make it through to the last eight? Take a look and cast your vote.
Tiger Woods victory in the 2019 Masters
With a record 82 official PGA Tour event wins to his name, Tiger Woods is in the history books as one of the all-time golfing greats, with 15 major tournament wins, record low scoring averages, career Grand Slams
But Woods career hasn’t always gone as well as his stats make it sound. Since his gradual rise to the top of the sports rankings in 1997, when he became world number one for the first time, he’s spent a record 683 weeks at the top of the ranking in his career.
That includes two spells where he remained world number one for over five consecutive years, with a record stint of 281 weeks from June 2005 to October 2010.
Woods hadn’t won a major tournament for over two years towards the end of his second time as number one, with a playoff win over Rocco Mediate in the 2008 U.S Open his last major success.
Following that victory, Woods began his battles with injuries, missing the remainder of the season through knee surgery.
On his 2009 comeback, Woods didn’t look the same player, failing to win a major for the first year since 2004.
Further injury setbacks followed, with the addition of scandals in his personal life outside of golf which hampered his recovery process.
In late 2009, Woods went through an infidelity scandal which resulted in the loss of vital sponsorship deals. During his battle with injury, Woods managed to once more regain world number one spot in March 2013 for 60 weeks, despite not winning a major in that time.
Woods was rocked by a major injury in March 2014 and had back surgery to treat a pinched nerve. On his return, he missed the cut in the Quicken Loans National, prompting further complications and he eventually underwent two further back surgeries in 2015.
Woods required further treatment on his back in April 2017, before he was arrested for driving under the influence in May 2017. The former world number one dropped to a record end of year rankings low, ending 2017 as world number 656.
2018 brought more promising performances from Woods, finishing second in the 100th PGA Championship before winning the Tour Championship, ending the year as world number 16 and setting himself up for a challenge in 2019.
His best finish in the first five tournaments of 2019 saw him tie fifth in the WGC – Dell Match Play, the lead up tournament to the Masters.
In the first round at Augusta, Woods was tied in 11th with two under-par, before a second-round four under-par left him six under half way through.
Woods shot five under-par in the third round, taking him up to tied second with Tony Finau on -11, two shots behind the leader Francisco Molinari.
The final round saw leader Molinari score 74, two over par while Woods continued his great form, beating off late competition from Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele to win by a shot. The comeback was complete, finishing the year at world number six, a meteoric rise of 650 places in two years, while winning his first major in 11 years.
Niki Lauda’s two F1 world championships after his serious 1976 crash
Following a disastrous and unsuccessful start to the 1970s for Ferrari, the team completely regrouped and handed the lesser-known Niki Lauda a drive in 1974.
Their faith in the Austrian was rewarded with a second-place finish in the Argentinian Grand Prix, with his first win in Formula One coming three races later in the Spanish Grand Prix.
Despite being the pacesetter for much of the season, he only managed one further win in his debut season, mostly due to inexperience and reliability issues.
He won his first championship in 1975, despite a slow start with a fifth-place finish his highest in the first four races. He sealed the championship with a third-place finish in Monza, with Ferrari clinching the Constructors title and a double in the same race.
Lauda dominated the start of the 1976 championship too, winning four of the first six races, before winning the British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch in race nine.
Heading into race ten, at Germany’s Nürburgring, Lauda had urged drivers to boycott the race on safety grounds, citing lack of resources at one of the longest tracks. Despite drivers voting to boycott the race, it went ahead.
Two laps into the race, Lauda’s Ferrari swerved off track on a fast left kink before Bergwerk, hitting an embankment, bursting into flames and colliding with Brett Lunger’s Surtees-Ford car.
The Austrian was trapped in his car. After being pulled from the wreckage and taken to hospital, where he lapsed into a coma, he was read his last rites by a priest, convinced he’d fail to make it through.
Lauda suffered major scarring on his head from the burns, losing most of his right ear as well as the hair on the right side of his head, his eyebrows and eyelids.
Only six weeks after his serious crash, Lauda was back in his Prancing Horse for the Italian Grand Prix. Against all odds, he managed to complete the race and come home to finish fourth. Lauda managed a podium finish in the penultimate race of the season in USA, before retiring in the Japanese Grand Prix.
Despite missing two races, Lauda only missed out on his second world championship by a single point to James Hunt.
Lauda was back in his Ferrari for the 1977 championship, in what turned out to be his final season driving for the Italian team. Despite a tough campaign, only winning three races from 17 events, the Austrian’s consistent point scoring led him to his second world championship, 17 points clear of Jody Scheckter in second.
He joined Brabham for the following season, and after enduring two unsuccessful championships finishing fourth and 14th respectively, Lauda retired from the sport in 1979.
The Austrian returned to racing only three seasons later following a successful trial with McLaren, with an unprecedented $3 Million salary. Lauda won two races in his first season back, finishing fifth in the Championship, before suffering another torrid campaign in the 1983 season.
The 1984 season started with three retirements in four, but Lauda managed five wins in the season as well as four second-place finishes. He had six retirements in total, but his consistency when he could finish the race led him to a third title, and his second since his accident. He won the 1984 championship by half a point from Alain Prost.
One further retirement-blighted season followed, before Lauda decided to retire for good at the end of the 1985 season, later moving on to management within the sport.
Cast your vote
There we are, our two latest contenders for the crown of the Greatest Comeback in the history of sport. But which gets your vote? Head over to our Twitter poll to let us know.
All odds and markets are correct as of date of publication.