Tiger Woods: The Ultimate Redemption Story


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AUGUSTA, GEORGIA – APRIL 14: Tiger Woods of the United States celebrates after sinking his putt on the 18th green to win during the final round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Alex Evans, Managing Editor

Tiger Woods is officially back.

The 43-year-old won his first Master’s crown, ending a 14-year drought at Augusta and decade-long major tournament drought, culminating in one of the great comeback stories in American sports history.

Sure, it was clear that his back fusion surgery in April 2017 was a success before his win, especially with Woods coming so close to winning both last year’s British Open and PGA Championship, but a return to previous major championship glory simply didn’t seem to be in the cards.

Woods, like few athletes of the current day aside from a LeBron James or Serena Williams, has the ability to capture the diehard and casual golf fan, as well as a general public interest.

I’m not a huge golf fan by any means. I’ll watch the occasional major tournament on a Sunday afternoon like most of America, but this one was different. Tiger was playing in the last group on a Sunday at a major tournament–the major tournament. I set my alarm for 8:30 a.m. to ensure I’d be ready for Tiger’s 9:20 a.m. tee time. I did any homework I originally wanted to complete on Sunday the day before just so I wouldn’t be distracted. There isn’t another athlete whose appearance would lead me to take similar measures.

The ironic thing is, I’m not a huge fan of Tiger Woods the person. I appreciate the good man he appears to have morphed himself into following a disastrous fall from public grace in 2009, but what he did has been difficult for me to forgive. That doesn’t mean I can’t acknowledge his evolution as both a golfer and a person, however. What made me and perhaps tens of thousands of others tune in to watch him on Sunday is simple: Americans love a redemption story.

We’re the first people to kick someone when they’re down and at their lowest point, but also the first to grant those same people second chances. Woods was beaten down, both physically and emotionally. I honestly didn’t think he’d ever win a major again, although that doesn’t mean I didn’t want him to.

Tiger, the golf prodigy who for so long had closed off most of the outside world and turned a cold shoulder to fans and fellow golfers on tour alike, finally became relatable at this Masters.

He was down, just like so many of us have been at some point during our lives. He was humbled on the course through debilitating injuries, and off of it with admissions of infidelity and a DUI arrest in May 2017. Much like ourselves, he worked hard to regain his sense of self and purpose in life, which is something society as a whole has the unique ability to both recognize this and identify with it.

Sunday was so special to so many people in part because of the tremendous athleticism Woods displayed, but even more so because of the nostalgia, it provided. For those unlike myself who wasn’t in fifth grade at the time of his 2008 U.S. Open victory, Woods’ win was virtually a new experience for us. For those old enough to see him win his first green jacket in 1997, Sunday’s events had to be nostalgic, hearkening back to pleasant times before the recession in 2008.

Will Woods, who now holds 15 major titles, ever catch Jack Nicklaus’ 18-major championship record? His performance this weekend at the very least opens the door to that conversation, but it doesn’t seem like Tiger is too concerned. His body language and interactions with fans this past weekend showed that he’s at peace with his life and career. He’s already completed one of the more incredible comebacks we’ll ever see from both a sports and life perspective, and not even 10 more green jackets could come close to replicating that.