Tiger is back on top of the Golf world
Tell me where you were for 18 holes of the Tour Championship last Sunday. Were you actually watching NFL football? Were you too busy doing something that took you away from the action at East Lake? If you were otherwise too occupied to see this, I feel really bad for you.
In 1975, Eldrick Tont Woods was born to a father that was an amateur golfer and also played baseball at Kansas St. He was also in the military and that allowed him the privilege of having Tiger play golf at places like the Navy course and others. As we all know by now, Tiger was introduced to the game before he was two years old and was considered a prodigy not too long after. From there, he went on to win contest after contest, and at times against boys older than him. By the time he was 11, he was beating his dad on a regular basis.
His career would take off when he turned pro at the age of 20. It also helped when he signed the biggest contracts at the time with Nike and Titleist. Then, came the first of many moments that he would wow us and the golf world. It was the 1997 Masters and a young Tiger would put on one of the greatest shows ever witnessed when destroyed the field by 12 shots. He would shoot an 18-under in what is still the worst shellacking the golf world had ever seen at that moment, but there was more to come.
In 2000, Woods had a season for the ages as he won six consecutive events to tie the record of the great Ben Hogan. At the US Open that year, he won by a record 15-strokes and that year he also became the youngest golfer to ever capture the Career Grand Slam. The records and achievements would just keep coming and the only question was when not if, he would break the greatest golf record of all, the 18 majors by Jack Nicklaus. Then came the “Derailment”.
In 2008, Woods would need major knee surgery that kept him off the course for the rest of that year. In 2009, the world awaited the return of the king of golf. He would not win a major that year for the first time since 2004 and the world would soon find out the life that he was living. It would be revealed that Tiger was having multiple affairs across the world and that would eventually cost him his marriage and the family life he treasured so much.
When you are one of the greats, truly one of the greatest ever, there is very little that can take you out of your zone. But when you destroy your family and your career in an age of a massive media presence, even that is too much to overcome.
For the next four years, the Tiger we had become accustomed to was nowhere to be found. Injuries and inconsistent play would begin to haunt him and see his world ranking plummet to depths we could have never imagined.
The year of 2013 gave us hope as Tiger would get back to his winning ways and reclaim the number ranking in golf. Yet, he would not be a real factor in the four majors that year and it was also the last year he would win on the PGA Tour.
For the next five years, golf would see a changing of the guard with new players making names for themselves. The game would become a game that would not include Tiger as much and see the TV ratings take a plunge. Eventually, names like Dustin Johnson, Jordan Speith, Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, and others would bring the game back to life. The game would survive and the fans came back to see the new blood that by the way, were pretty damn good.
The fear of Tiger that was once visible to the naked eye was now gone and golfers around the world saw their opportunity to win. For Woods, his ranking would go as low as number 1199 in the world. Something that all of us could never imagine. His back problems had taken him to lows that would eventually force him to make the decision to have fusion surgery to see if that could get him back to at least playing the game he loves without pain.
In March of this year, Woods would get his first top-five finish in five years. By the time he made it to the 2018 PGA Championship, he was feeling good and finished second. Could it be? Was it possible that we might, just might see the greatest golfer of all-time making a comeback? He was now ranked 26th in the world and then something amazing happened.
The 2018 Tour Championship got underway on Thursday, September 20th. He would shot a 65 to open the tournament and followed that with a 68 in Round 2. A 65 on Saturday saw Woods with a three-shot lead going into Sunday’s final round. Fans and the golf world would go to bed that night almost not believing what they had just witnessed over the last three days. Tiger Woods would come out Sunday with his trademark red shirt with a chance to notch his first win on the Tour in more than five years.
Magic returned to golf that day as did the adoring crowds that followed Woods. By the time he made it to the 18th hole, it looked like he had the entire world following behind him. It was a scene we had all become so used to, yet had so longed for again. Then came the moment the golf ball sunk into the hole and finally, Tiger Woods was a champion again.
After so many wins, so much money that he won, this had to be one of the greatest moments for one of the greatest athletes we have ever seen. The demons of failure, the dark days and nights he agonized over for five years were finally exercised. Woods would raise his arms in triumph once again and we could finally say the words: He’s back.
As I said at the beginning of this piece, I don’t know what you were doing Sunday, September 23rd, 2018, but I was glued to my television watching one of best moments of my life as a true fan of sports. Tiger Woods was once again the king of the world, if only for one weekend.