As Tiger Woods sank his final putt on Sunday at the Masters, he raised his arms in celebration, as if unloading the heavy burden of the past 10 years, and embraced his family and friends. One couldn’t help but reflect on his remarkable life.
The meteoric rise and unparalleled domination of 1996 to 2009, first capturing the Masters in 1997 at age 21, winning 71 PGA tournaments, including 14 majors, lifting the game of golf to unprecedented heights, becoming an international sports icon and one of the world’s biggest personalities.
Then the crash and fall of 2009 to 2017, with the seeds of that demise first planted by the death of his mentor and life compass, his father Earl, in 2006. Driving into a fire hydrant and tree in November 2009, while fleeing his enraged, golf club wielding wife, the embarrassing sex scandals, collapse of family and marriage, public humiliation, loss of reputation, breakdown of his body with serious career threatening back and leg injuries, dazed and confused on the roadside in a 2017 DUI incident, riddled with and dependent upon painkillers, and the very real possibility he would never golf again.
Then the comeback of 2017 to the present. Balanced and stable personal life, strong body, masterful golf game. The unfathomable will and effort required to rehabilitate his emotional life and his back, legs and golf swing represent to me the incredible potential and capabilities of the human body and spirit.
From one of the most revered people in America in 1999, to one of the most hated in 2009, to one of the most loved in 2019. We all have it in us to rise and fall and then rise again, Tiger just did it in such a public and extreme fashion, through the deepest valleys and to the highest peaks.
And then I thought of my family.
My parents as children, with their young dreams and fears set against the backdrop of war-ravaged Europe in the 1930’s and 1940’s, then making their way as adults in Canada, with many achievements and of course some regrets, and now very ill and elderly, but still getting up each morning and fortunately being cared for with love and dignity.
And my wife and kids, with our own triumphs and challenges, joys and sorrows. Our lives as books filled with great characters, fascinating plotlines and the ability to write our own endings. Knowing that pain, sacrifice and suffering are inevitably part of the story, but having faith that it is darkest just before the coming dawn.
As I watched with misty eyes that Sunday afternoon Tiger Woods hugging his 10 year old son Charlie, my phone rang. It was my 20 year old son calling from university.
Hey Dad, did you watch the Masters?
Pretty awesome, eh?
Yup. Do you know the full Tiger story, kid? He was about your age when he first won the Masters. And all that’s happened in his life since then … (gulp, sniff, deep breath).
Lots of that life drama stuff that you love, I assume.
You’re getting emotional, aren’t you Pops?
You’re going to write an article about this, aren’t you?