In recent weeks, I have written a few sports articles that have turned some heads, raised eyebrows and even caused a few heated debates. Is it because I am trying to agitate people and create a riot? The answer is no. Is it because I have fallen in love with a few underappreciated sports teams and heroes? The answer is yes.
So without further ado, I present another bold sports statement that you may not agree with, however, it resonates very well with me: Growing up, my favorite athlete was and still is Tiger Woods.
I remember it so vividly, the moment I fell in love with Tiger.
I was sitting on my parents' bed watching the Masters. It’s 2005 and Tiger is wearing his “Sunday red” which essentially meant that he was in contention to win the moment he stepped onto the golf course that day. He’s hooked a tee shot about 30 feet past the hole onto a fringe of thick rough. It’s the 16th hole of Augusta National, one of the most famous golf holes in the world. Woods spent about 15 minutes with his caddy surveying the land, trying to find the right line and scrupulously scoping out the best approach to take.
Then he walked up to the ball, took a hefty swing and the rest was history.
This famous chip shot took place on the biggest stage of professional golf and only one man, to say it candidly, had the balls to go for it.
This heightened confidence and ability to be fearless with a golf shot that had more downside than it did up, was what roped me into forever loving this iconic athlete.
From then on out I was hooked on Tiger Woods. I was enamored by his poise and laser focus. I remember watching how comfortable and relaxed he looked, despite playing in front of large audiences. He was always able to block out the noise and hype that followed him, and when a shot mattered most, he was going to sink it into the cup and flash his signature uppercut fist pump.
As a kid, I wanted to be just like Tiger. Whenever I would score a goal in little league soccer or make a basket I would imitate his fist pump and yell. I wanted to be a ferocious competitor and a winner just like he was in his prime. I wanted to emulate his ability to stay focused and block out any outside pressures.
And I wanted to be the greatest of all time, just like he is.
Yes, Tiger Woods has experienced a drastic fall in recent years off of the golf course, but speaking strictly from an athletic perspective, he is to this day one of the greatest sports heroes of all time and is my favorite sports figure.