Tiger Woods victory at the 2019 Masters resonated with many people who viewed the win either as a measure of vindication or the culmination of a long and painful comeback from injuries and setbacks both self-inflicted and imposed by detractors. Below, two writers reflect on Woods’ victory.
By Andrew Crockett
Australian golf historian
The Masters 2015 was a pivotal moment in our history and as big as any moment in golf, yet in true Tiger Woods fashion this victory transcends the game and into a conversation of the greatest sporting comeback of all time, in all sports.
Receiving the prestigious Ben Hogan award earlier this year, by the American Golf Writers Association, this award acknowledges a professional golfer who “has overcome a physical handicap or serious injury to remain active in golf.” Ben Hogan famously came back from a near fatal car accident in February 1949. Hogan, at the peak of his powers was out of the game for 12 months, returning in 1950 to win the U.S. Open, and moving forward to have his most prodigious year in 1953.
Not only has Tiger Woods overcome a physical handicap, he has been through a messy and very public divorce, admitted to sex and opiate addiction and attended rehab for both. Further to those struggles, Woods has returned from the dreaded chipping yips, an often fatal disease.
Tiger Woods has overcome physical, emotional and mental adversity to climb to the top of the golfing tree and whether you warm to the guy or not, his story transcends golf and sports into a very real world story of determination, grit and courage. Where Ben Hogan had one year out of the game, Woods had two straight years (2016, 2017) not playing major golf championships. I think the golfing administrators should pounce on this incredible moment and announce a new award ‘The Woods Award’, for a player who has managed to return from out of the “Woods.”
I doubt there were many dry eyes of the Aussie golf fans watching Tiger Woods walk up the 18th fairway and into the arms of his children, who waited in adoration of their father. Hearing the crowd chanting his name, as Tiger embraced the roll of the rockstar he truly is, this is a moment in golf history that will be difficult to surpass.
As his fellow players waited and greeted him with loving applause, embraces and admiration, it was very clear that Tiger Woods is still the alpha male in the golfing stable and he clearly has not run his last race.
Tiger Rises From the Ashes
By Bill Tucholski
Michigan Hickory Tour
Over a decade ago, Tiger Woods crashed and burned. His father died, he suffered public humiliation, his marriage ended, and his health deteriorated. He imagined then that a few prepared statements, another operation, and a makeover with a new a swing, caddie, golf instructor, and girlfriend would be all that was needed to make his comeback.
But he continued to struggle. His physical condition worsened to the point that he was forced to imagine a life without golf. Family responsibilities and more meaningful relationships began to take center stage. Eventually he returned to golf in earnest. But now winning was no longer the end all to be all. He began to celebrate making the cuts, then finding his way to the leaderboard.
But to win another major seemed most unlikely. That was, until last week, when Tiger dug deep. At The Masters, he summoned his past successes there and course knowledge. He stayed patient and trusted “the process.” And lo and behold, another green jacket! It has been said golf is a metaphor for life. Isn’t there something each of us can learn about ourselves from following Tiger’s road to redemption?