As I prepare to write this editorial, I am watching the Masters. Tiger is in control and will win his fifth Masters and his first major tournament in eleven years. It is hard to believe it has been that long since Tiger dominated the PGA. What an amazing decade it has been since.
I am not a Tiger fan, but I wanted him to win. He is good for the sport. Every sport needs someone to root for and almost just as important, someone to root against. For me that example was set in the 70’s and 80’s Olympics. Even though I was often watching some obscure sport, it felt like world peace was held in the balance when an American athlete was competing against a Soviet athlete. It gave the event far more importance than it rightly deserved. Quite honestly, the Olympics have not been the same since the good vs evil theme has dissipated.
However, the Tiger win does not feel like good vs. evil. Rather, it feels like a story of redemption. Tiger’s fall from the pinnacle was public and ugly. It was the fodder of late night tv jokes and countless tabloids. For the next ten plus years he battled embarrassment, four back surgeries and the rise of younger golfers who were anxious to take his place. He did not give up. He never gave up.
As Tiger walked to the 18th green with victory almost assuredly in his grasp, he never cracked a smile. His face was stoic, almost grim. I suspect he could not believe it himself. He had done it. He was not going to let anything stand in his way. He was back on top. He was getting his fifth green jacket.
I am hesitant to make athletes out to be heroes, but in this case Tiger taught me a lesson. Life will have its ups and downs. Friends may abandon you. Your career may seemingly be in ruins. No one else may think you can rise again. Today we saw that with sheer determination you can rise above your mistakes. You can be a winner, again. Thanks Tiger.
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