It has been over 3 weeks now since Tiger Woods won the Masters back at Augusta National Country Club, his first victory at this iconic event since 2005, and for me, it still feels like a dream. Not only did the improbable happen and the greatest comeback in sports history fully materialize, but for fans and critics alike all across the world, hope and triumph were demonstrated in full effect. It is undebatable that Woods' victory will forever reign as inspiration for all of mankind to enjoy.
It was November 2009, and the headline "Tiger Woods is in the hospital after a crash near his Florida home," was printed on every possible news source in the country. Two months later Woods was again presented in the national spotlight, this time for the infamous scandal that would begin his ultimate public demise, announcing he was unfaithful to his wife, letting down both his family and fans. Woods then went on to lose sponsorships with Gatorade, AT&T, and Nike. At this point, it was globally recognized that the beginning of the end was near for Woods. Not only had his private life been dissected for the world to see, but his golf performance was deteriorating just as much as his body was.
As the headlines surrounding Tigers off the course lifestyle calmed down, he began to make his first comeback onto the golf course, a comeback to prove to people he was the same Tiger Woods before all of the drama. Unfortunately for Woods, his body was not cooperating. He underwent four leg surgeries and two back operations in a span of about seven years. These numbers are not including the many minor operations he had while holding the worlds number-one golfer title. After each operation, Woods would rehab play in a tournament and would clearly not be himself. He shot his worst ever professional round of golf and missed the cut at the 2011 PGA Championship, falling out of the Top 50 Professional Golfer rankings for the first time in his career. It was clear Tiger was not Tiger.
Let's fast forward to 2017, Woods is arrested for a DUI after he had a rare reaction to his allergy medicine and crashed his car. He pleads guilty and serves 12 months' probation. When he gets back on the golf course, he continues to have back issues, severely affecting his game. It was in that year Woods was told he may never play golf again. Now, any sane person would probably stop doing whatever it is that they were doing if they got medical advice and were told to do so. In Woods' case, clearly, money was not an issue. So why the drive to continue playing? Well, that is what makes Woods and his story so remarkable.
For Woods, arguably atop the list of the worlds most competitive individuals with Michael Jordan. He wanted to prove to himself and his kids that he could golf again. As he repeatedly said in off-the-course interviews, his kids (who were not alive to see him win his last major in 2008) only associated golf with seeing their dad in pain. For the man who once dominated the sport as no person has ever dominated before, he was determined to get back. That is why this story is so different. That is why Tiger Woods' victory at the Masters was more than simply winning a golf tournament. It was a testament to the mental toughness and strength of one man. It was a demonstration to himself that he could fight to get back to the pillar he had once commanded for so long. Lastly, it was a presentation for his children that their dad could come back from all the hell that he had experienced and prove that golf does not constitute pain anymore.
As Tiger walked off that 18th green at Augusta national golf course and hugged his son in the same spot he embraced his father, Earl Woods, 22 years earlier after his first Masters win in 1997, America took noticed and realized sometimes professional sports is not just a game, it's a platform for all of us to connect and truly realize the beauties in life. Tiger Woods cheers to you in actually showcasing that anything is possible on any given day no matter what the past has thrown at you.