GET INTO GOLF: Through injuries and personal issues Tiger refused to stay down
It was almost exactly year ago when a growing number of readers asked me the same question — “Will Tiger win again?”
At that time my response was, “…to answer your question — Yes, Tiger will win again.”
In fairness, we need to take a look back from a different elevation. And, there are too many dynamics to discuss this completely in the time we have available.
We need to go way back to the year 2006. Tiger’s father passed away. This did not appear to effect his play on the course, but we cannot know how much this would have impacted his personal life.
It was nearly 10 years ago that Tiger’s infidelity was national news. Subsequently, he separated from his wife and took a hiatus from the Tour.
Tiger would win his last major, the 2008 US Open, with a torn ACL. Knee surgery was successful and he would go on to have a couple of very good years in 2013 and 2014.
Next, it was spine trouble. Multiple back surgeries and recovery time would essentially sideline Mr. Woods for a few years. Never knowing how it would feel, he would plan to play in certain events then wait to determine if it was possible.
There were moments or rounds in which we would see the ‘old’ Tiger, yet overall he was not the same and his future as a player was in serious doubt. Ranked No. 1 in the world for years (10 of 11 years from 1998 to 2009) he would drop to No. 1,199.
In 2017, Woods’ fourth back surgery took place and, according to reports from the Guardian, he told the people around him “I’m done.” The surgery would require six months to recover and there was no competitive golf for that year.
However, by the spring of 2018, Tiger was on the mend. He would finish second at the Valspar Championship in Florida, his first top—five finish since 2013. Throughout the summer more top—10’s were to come including the PGA Championship, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, and the British Open.
Fast forward to the last six or so months. Last fall, Tiger qualifies for the FedEx Playoffs and wins the Tour Championship.
Just days ago, as Michael Jordan would declare “the best comeback ever!,” Tiger wins the Masters for the fifth time and first major victory since 2013.
We have to pause here for a moment. Writing about Tiger may be viewed as a sensitive subject. On balance, golfers and non—golfers alike are more familiar with his indiscretions than his time in the operating room.
He will continue to have an asterisk next to his name in the minds of many. To the point that we almost forgot that he just may be the greatest of all time.
Not to discount the flaws and frailty, which we all possess. But, I tend to think about the greats in other sports. Babe Ruth notably had his issues. It is rumored that Michael Jordan had is little foray into professional baseball, because the NBA was all over of him for gambling on games. Does this make them less remarkable on the field?
In Tiger’s case, there is another ingredient — injuries that would have stopped nearly all other athletes from teeing it up in competition again.
The answer to the question that 99.9% of other living humans cannot provide from within is – what is the inner drive that kept Tiger going? The man has millions upon millions of dollars, nearly unlimited resources.
He could have retired and been part of the GOAT argument forever, along with names such as Jones, Hogan, Nelson, and Nicklaus. Knee surgery, back surgery, personal (but not so private) issues, and he would not stay down.
Most of us would have been on a beach in Tahiti. Tiger was in the physical therapy room, on the driving range, on the course, never accepting the consolation. Toward this end, I leave you with this quote from President Theodore Roosevelt.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Well done, Tiger Woods, Masters Champion.
John Renslow is a PGA Professional, VP of Yugi Golf Management, and provides golf instruction at local courses.
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