Tuesday, 16 April 2019 05:35

[Opinion] The Return of Tiger Woods - Reuben Abati

What happened in the United States, at the Augusta National Golf Club on Sunday was phenomenal, historic and inspirational - a truly human story in its grandeur and implications. With a single, final stroke, and a hard stare, Tiger Woods won the Masters, his fifth since he won the first in 1997, 22 years ago. History was made. This was his 81stPGA tour win. His first major title since the 2008 US Open. His fourth Masters green jacket was in 2005. As he wore the jacket again on Sunday, 14 years later, he said: “It fits”. Indeed Tiger, “it fits.” 


It was one of those wow moments in the history of sports. The crowd cheered. The Tiger roared! On display was a touch of greatness, originality and talent- pure talent. Tiger Woods’ career as a golf athlete has been marked by “highs and lows” to borrow President Barack Obama’s words, but the highest moment for him, a moment that would forever be remembered in the history of golf was that moment on Sunday when he shot the final putt on the 18th hole. The legacy of Tiger Woods has become one of the most defining moments in the history of the game itself, and although he is second in terms of overall record to Jack Nicklaus who has a record of 18 major wins, Tiger Woods trails behind with 15 major trophies, there is no doubt that Tiger may well end up as the champion of the records. He is however, not defined by statistics. 


He is defined by his determination, confidence and the manner in which he has ended up at the other end of the tunnel of self-discovery to regain his composure and his pre-eminence. Many cannot be blamed for giving up on him and thinking that he had reached the end of his career. His marriage collapsed, he was called out by women who accused him of sexual harassment. He had a car accident. He was charged for driving under the influence. As recently as 2017, he was still battling with multiple back and leg injuries. He even took to painkillers. He lost the star power that he once wielded as younger players took over the game and charted their own paths, even if many of them came into the game, inspired by him. On Sunday, April 14, the old Tiger Woods returned to claim his place as a Master of the game. 


His triumph is the triumph of the human will over adversity. It was pure humanism, irony and spirit on display. For a man to rise and fall, and find the courage and the energy to rise again is one of the most inspirational tales about what makes us human. For generations to come, others will draw inspiration from the example of Tiger Woods. He is beyond golf. He is such a fine example of the human spirit. 


The young 21-year old who won his first green jacket in 1997 has become the man, one of the greatest of all times. In 1997, his father watched him as he wore the green jacket. This time around, his own children, 11--year old Sam and 10-year old Charlie, were at the Augusta National to watch him. The son has become the father. A cycle closed, a new chapter was opened, as history was made, fusing together the story of three generations beyond the moment.  Tiger’s two children were not yet born at the time of his reign as the king of golf. Hear him: To have my kids here, it’s come full circle… You know my dad was here in ’97 and now I’m the dad with two kids here.” That was touching. Those words reverberate beyond the golf course. 


There are of course many lessons to be learnt from the story of Tiger Woods. Only those who persevere win at the end. From being the Tiger of the pack, Woods, ended up in sixth position in the PGA Championship in 2009, fourth at the US Open in 2010, and sixth at the British Open in 2018, and at other times he disappointed us even more tragically. But now that he is back at the top, the question is: will he be able to sustain the magic? And it won’t take too long for us to get an answer to this question as Tiger Woods participates in some of the tournaments in the remaining months of the year: the PGA Championship, May 16-17, US Open, June 13-16, British Open, July 18- 21 and the Presidents Cup, Dec. 12-15.  Whatever happens in the future, we would all have that memory of April 14 to cherish: Tiger Woods is the greatest comeback king of the game. His achievement, by the way, momentarily united President Trump and President Obama, with the two political opponents agreeing on the authenticity of Tiger Woods, with President Trump becoming a twitter cheerleader for Tiger Woods. Congratulations, Tiger.   


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