“It’s just a guy that’s been through a lot.”
-Scott Van Pelt, with the understatement of the year, on April 14th 2019 at 3:05 pm EST.
What Tiger Woods did today was win his 5th Masters Championship to earn another green jacket.
I’m not an expert on golf. I don’t watch or play enough to pretend I know about clubs and approaches, and how fast greens are running, or the condition of fairways.
But I do know that I never in a gazillion years thought Tiger Woods would return to the mountaintop and win The Masters ever again. And you didn’t either.
But I hoped he would.
This is a guy who was at a mountaintop to which no one not named Ali, Jordan, Brady, or Gretzky has ever been. These are the names that dominated their sport in the modern era, and no one dominated golf like Tiger did from the time he turned pro until the time he crashed his Escalade into a tree that infamous night.
His crashing halt was nobody’s fault but his own.
It’s been well documented the self-mutilating and shocking/cringe-worthy number of short comings and faults: the unbelievable amount of affairs, the aforementioned Escalade crash, the divorce, the pain meds, the embarrassment, the shame. The scripted apology press conference. The night he was found sleeping in his car, and later to an addiction to pills. On and on and on and on, including an admission to being a sex addict.
More skeletons in a closet than any modern iconic name sports has ever had.
After his recent DUI arrest where he was found asleep at the wheel on May 30, 2017 I couldn’t help but think: ‘Never mind golf, I just hope this dude is okay and can live a normal life and get the help that he needs.’ Maybe you said this too, or maybe you didn’t.
But it was just another embarrassing narrative to add to Tiger’s downfall.
Golf, like life, is a game you play on your own. So it was on him, and only him, to pick himself up and get back on the course and play again. But it was evident in recent years that he would never win another major again.
That’s what we thought. That’s what I thought.
What Tiger did today was the most astonishing ascension back on top that I have ever seen watching sports.
Seeing he was tied for the lead on the back nine on Sunday started a frenzy that I don’t remember ever seeing watching golf. I love watching The Masters, and look forward to the final Sunday every year. But Tiger in the lead on the back 9 was unbelievable enough, whether he would end up winning or not.
I texted friends: “Holy sh*t is he gonna win?”
Not really truly believing, but hoping he would.
What Tiger did with his Iron to tee off the 16th hole threw me from my chair, like I was being ejected from an F-14 Tomcat on Top Gun, and vaulted me screaming with my fists in the air. My Dog Baxter barked. I yell-cheered again as the ball rolled within two feet of the pin, and if you were watching you did this too.
He then putted for birdie, giving him a two-shot lead with two holes left on Masters Sunday.
He ended up needing just a 5 on the 18th hole to win, and he got it.
I don’t know Tiger Woods any more than you do. But like SVP said, I do know he’s been through a lot.
What Tiger did is hit rock bottom. Then go down further. Then further, then further and further yet until he hit the point of being so far at the bottom that it was only him that could ever pick himself up again and climb out.
What Tiger did was complete the climb from a dark abyss. He pulled himself out of his own unbelievably self-induced rock bottom, and climbed back to the mountaintop.
He won The 2019 Masters and put on another green jacket. What Tiger did was win the Super Bowl of golf for the 5th time.
Love him or hate him, you gotta hand it to him.
What Tiger did today is something that nobody in the world thought was possible.