Everyone, well most everyone, loves a comeback story, especially a really good one. For many, Tiger Woods’ 2019 Masters win is being hailed as one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time.
This self-described, “cablanasian” Tiger, a term coined acknowledging his multiracial heritage which includes African-American, Native-American, Asian and Caucasian ancestry, was the youngest player, at age fifteen, to win the U.S. Junior Amateur title and the first player to win three U.S. Amateurs in a row. Yet, such a few years back might not as readily come to mind as the turnaround in November 2009 when cheating allegations surfaced amidst his rocky relationship with then wife Elin Nordegren. The couple divorced less than a year later. Tiger’s then reputation seemed permanently tarnished.
Yet, it would be difficult for an average sporting enthusiast to diminish Woods’ prior remarkable contribution as he became a huge global star with his series of major wins, beginning in the late 1990s throughout the 2000s, scattering sports stereotypes of golf being strictly for white, older, wealthy men parading in knee-length trousers. Nonetheless, years of struggle both on and off the golf course plagued Woods, who eventually made a return in 2013, reclaiming his world number one spot.
Silently many since last year might have been rooting for Woods to create a moment such as this, even as he won the Tour Championship at Atlanta’s East Lake Golf Club on Sunday, September 23, 2018. The victory marking his 80th PGA tournament win, and putting him two victories shy of tying the record of 82 wins held by Sam Sneed.
When we meet great sportsmen, we meet whole persons. Woods, in acknowledging his series of injuries during his career, noted how his physical changes impacted his game. Often during his career, Woods is quoted as striving for a goal of peaking four times a year. In an interview with Golfweek, the golfer noted, “I just can’t log in the time that I used to, … I have to pick different parts of my game to work on, and that’s the challenge I now face going forward. I just have to figure it out and try to create a good balance there to find a prep of what I need to work on. It was a little bit easier when I could work on everything, but that’s no longer the case.” Possibly it’s this sort of matter-of-fact attitude that has borne out in Tiger’s game.
Interestingly, prior to winning the 2019 Masters, Woods also commented that he did not need to win the Masters again, but he really wanted to. Is there a difference? Apparently, this sort of mindset was being worked into Tiger even as a toddler. Woods senior noted when Tiger was a toddler he asked for a tricycle. “Do you want a tricycle or do you need it?” his dad recalls asking. Tiger would then comment, “I want it” understanding the drive coming from a desire, which he obviously now puts to good use.
British Golf Industry Association (BGIA), after Woods’ recent Masters’ win, highlighted how he might now be influencing the younger generation of golfers. “The golf star’s latest achievement is helping to attract young people to the sport”, says BGIA. They noted, “golf is often driven by middle-class and white men, and I think he appeals to a more diverse audience, him coming back into the fore alongside players like Tony Finau will help the perception too.”
Why possibly one of the greatest comebacks? In 2008, Tiger Woods was a man with a picture-perfect family life, all the money, adoration, and respect in the world. Yet things were not as they seemed on the surface. The Guardian commented that “Woods’s journey sends an important message to all, but perhaps especially to younger people, that it is not perfection which drives success, it is talent, effort, and hard work.
No doubt, to enjoy this type of success in the sporting arena again, Tiger would have taken a closer look at what was happening. Woods Senior gave some insight into Tiger’s earlier training. Woods Senior would ask his son, “Who’s responsible for that bad shot? That crow that made noise during your backswing? Your lie? The bag somebody dropped? Whose responsibility was that?” “Mine,” Tiger would reply. Sometimes, when Woods Senior would ask why Tiger took out his disappointment on his club, he would answer, “I don’t want to, Daddy, it just happens.” Eventually, Tiger would say, “Daddy, I’m trying very hard.” “I’d say, I know you’re trying, just keep trying.” Many would be happy that Tiger kept trying for generations to come.
Today we meet an integrated, more mature Tiger Woods. A sportsman, a legend who not only integrated his many ancestral roots to coin the term, “cablanasian” but who has integrated his multiple experiences, personal and professional, successfully working them all to bring forward his best game. As Tiger explained it; “I reach out each and every day with my foundation. “We don’t focus on golf, because that’s not the sole purpose of life. Life is not about hitting a high draw and a high fade. It’s about being a better person each and every day and helping others. That’s what life is all about. Is golf a part of people’s lives? Yes, it’s part of my life. But it’s not the end of all things in my life.” But it surely is where his legend for many begins.
By Kerriann Toby
Kerriann Toby is a dynamic therapist currently pursuing her Doctorate of Psychology (PsyD). She is a member of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) and has trained as a cyber counselor. Her areas of experience, expertise, and interest include child development, sexual and reproductive health, gender-related matters, marriage and family life and promoting the idea of positive psychology, using strengths to support mental health and wellbeing.
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