Michael Phelps explains how the viral video of him cheering on Tiger Woods at the Masters came together

  • Michael Phelps was caught cheering on Tiger Woods from the front row of No. 16 at Augusta National at the Masters on Sunday.
  • Phelps spoke with NBC Sports about how he got his tickets to the tournament, and what it meant to him to watch Tiger as he completed his comeback.
  • Phelps had been a helpful friend to Woods after his DUI arrest in 2017, advising Woods on how to handle such a difficult moment in the public eye.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

Nearly every person at Augusta National on Sunday was cheering on Tiger Woods to win the Masters, but one particular patron stood out from the crowd — Olympic champion Michael Phelps.

At the par-3 No. 16, Woods provided one of the most thrilling moments of the day, nearly hitting a hole-in-one that would have sent the crowd into hysterics.

Woods would miss his ace by mere inches, but replays showed him cheering his ball towards the hole from the tee box, and right behind him was Phelps, cheering just as hard.

Read more: Michael Phelps cheered on Tiger Woods at the Masters as Woods came inches away from a hole-in-one

On Wednesday, Phelps spoke with NBC Sports about how he wound up at the Masters in the first place, explaining that it had always been a dream of his to attend the tournament, and him being there for Woods' big comeback win was more luck than anything.

"A mutual friend is a member," Phelps said, explaining how he got his invite to one of the most difficult tickets in sports. "A buddy of mine called me Monday before the Masters. 'I have a ticket? Do you want to go? I have a plane. Do you want to go?' I was like, awesome, I'm going to the Masters for the first time."

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Scenes from the 2019 Masters
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Scenes from the 2019 Masters
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 11: Tiger Woods of the United States looks on from the 15th green during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 11: A gallery of patrons look on while Tiger Woods of the United States walks across the 16th green during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 11: Xander Schauffele of the United States chips to the 13th green during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 11: Tiger Woods of the United States plays a shot from a bunker on the second hole during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Jon Rahm, of Spain, hits out of the bunker on the 16th hole during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Billy Horschel flips his club on the fourth hole during the first round for the Masters golf tournament Thursday, April 11, 2019, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, hits from the rough on the first hole during the first round for the Masters golf tournament Thursday, April 11, 2019, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 12: Tyrrell Hatton of England reacts to a putt on the 18th green during the second round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 12, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 12: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland jumps across Rae's Creek on the 13th hole during the second round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 12, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 11: Bryson DeChambeau of the United States reacts on the 15th green during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 11: Tyrrell Hatton of England reacts on the 13th green during the first round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 11, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 14: Tiger Woods of the United States plays a shot from the 12th tee during the final round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 14: Tiger Woods of the United States plays his shot from the third tee during the final round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 14: Brooks Koepka of the United States crosses the Sarazen Bridge on the 15th hole during the final round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 14: Tiger Woods of the United States celebrates after sinking his putt to win during the final round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Tiger Woods reacts as he wins the Masters golf tournament Sunday, April 14, 2019, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
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Read more: How to get tickets to the Masters, and how much it costs to get into one of the most exclusive sporting events in the world

As to how Phelps fell into front row seats to watch Woods tee off at No. 16, he says it came down to a helpful stranger that got to the tournament early on Sunday.

"We started walking around the course and ran into a couple of nice people who had gotten to the gate early, at 3:30 a.m," Phelps said. "They said, if you ever want to come back and sit on 16 with us, we have a couple of chairs. We got lucky, met a super nice guy working there that had some seats set up in some primo spots that we just had some pretty amazing access to."

Being so close for one of Woods' best shots of the tournament-winning round was especially meaningful to Phelps, who spoke with Woods from time to time after his DUI arrest in May 2017, advising and empathizing with him about the struggles of rising from a difficult moment in the public eye.

Read more: Another year into retirement, Michael Phelps explains why he's 'glad' he's not swimming and how he channels his competitiveness

"It's cool because I kind of have an idea of what that feels like, climbing back to the top of the mountain," Phelps told NBC Sports. "Having a chance to see him do it on his terms with his kids there, I was speechless for two days."

Phelps also said that while he hasn't had the chance to play golf with him yet, Woods is a dream partner to join on the course eventually now that he has retired from competitive swimming. For now though, it seems Phelps is plenty content cheering him on from the stands.

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