Posted by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
Edited by: Tommy Parrill (@DearTommy)
For most of my life, there have been only two sports that my father has been able to enjoy watching with me. The first is Nascar, and the second is golf. As long as I can remember, there has always been one name that we have associated with the 18 holes, and that was Tiger Woods. From the time he made his debut back in 1996, Tiger was the man. A child-hood golf prodigy at the age of 3, Woods was a star at Stanford University, and then that stardom followed him as he took the PGA Tour by storm.
I started watching the tour intently in the early 2000’s, and there was no question that I was hoping for a Tiger victory every week. At that point, how could you not be a fan? He was the face of Nike, did Buick commercials, had his own Gatorade for crying out loud, and oh yeah, he was unquestionably the best golfer in the world. Of course there were guys that rivaled him such as Vijay Singh (who is kind of an ass-clown), Ernie Els and Jim Furyk (both extremely nice guys), but Tiger was still the best. Woods had the world by the balls until December of 2009, when it all came crashing down.
The story broke that he had been cheating on his wife for years with well over 100 mistresses from all across the country. Understand this, I in NO WAY condone cheating on anybody and I truly believe that it is one of the worst things that you can do, but damn Tiger, how did you pull that off? Anyways, the man had it all. An amazing family, all the sponsors a person could ask for, and once again, he was the best golfer in the world, and just like that, it was gone. His wife divorced him, his sponsors dropped him, and his golf game went down the shitter. He tried to come back and play for the next 2 years, but he just wasn’t the same. So after the hot-streak that Woods has been on for about the last year, the question asks, is Tiger Woods back? Personally, I think he never left.
During last year’s Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, I had the opportunity to work as an intern where I covered the golfers and the tournament on the Memorial Tournament’s social media sites. It was because of that experience that I was able to witness first hand the master that is Tiger Woods. Woods had a consistent first 3 days of the tournament, until he broke loose on the final day. On the 16th hole, Woods chipped in an unbelievable birdie shot to take the lead and because of that, I was able to see a live Tiger fist pump, right before my very own eyes. It was after that moment, and winning the tournament, that the world realized that Tiger was back.
This was a man that for so long had been on top, in life and in golf. Yet in one fell swoop, it was all taken from him. Granted, he deserved everything that happened to him, but I can’t imagine how somebody could deal with all of that and still try to play golf. For awhile, you could understand how his game would suck. I mean, his marriage came crashing down and he was having problems with his knee, but just like every sport, the sympathy went away, and a young man from Northern Ireland named Rory McElroy started to take over. Even as good as Woods was, people start to ask, what have you done for me lately? The wins from 1999 don’t matter anymore, and when push comes to shove, it was time to take his throne back.
Sense last May, Tiger has been on a tear. Winning multiple tournaments, and even though he is still 4 majors behind Jack Nicklaus, Woods has his game, confidence and swagger back. As of yesterday, Tiger won the Arnold Palmer Invitational for the eighth time. He is back to being the #1 golfer in the world, and dating Lindsey Vonn. All I have to say is dude, respect. Every athlete has moments when they lose their touch or they aren’t the best anymore and when that happens, the media tries to ruin them. The truth of the matter is that we all have bad days, and sometimes they turn into weeks. For Tiger, it was years. There is a phrase out there that says your worst enemy is right between your ears. There is so much truth to that. Woods had so much on his mind that how could he possibly think about golf? I truly believe that the best golfer in the world was there all along, but without a clear head, his excellence was fogged up. It happens to us all, but once we clear our mind and start back with the basics, the best in all of us comes out.
With that said, Tiger had many obstacles that he needed to power through. No matter how long it took, he has done it, and with accomplishing his latest feats, it shows that Tiger Woods is not back, because in his mind, he never left.