There we were, watching Tiger Woods as he made his way to the 18th green last Sunday, a remarkable scene as thousands of spectators engulfed him on his walk to victory while chanting and cheering his name as he was about to put the finishing touches on his 80th PGA Tour win.
Woods beaming smile and raised arms expressed his triumph after the final tap-in suggested it was well worth all the hardship.
“I am extremely proud of him,” Jack Nicklaus” said in a series of tweets congratulating Woods.
“It was a grind out there,” Woods said. “I loved every bit of it. The fight and the grind and the tough conditions and just had to suck it up and hit shots, and I loved every bit of it.”
“I appreciate it a little bit more than I did because I don’t take it for granted that I’m going to have another decade, two decades in my future of playing golf at this level,” Woods said. “It means a lot more to me now in that sense because I didn’t know if I’d ever be out here playing again, doing this again.”
This final round at East Lake was not easy, however, it paled in comparison to the treacherous comeback Woods had to endure in recent years.
Woods achieved amazing accomplishments very early. At the age of 20, Woods had turned pro and signed on with Titleist and Nike. One year later, at twenty-one, he became the youngest to ever win the Masters tournament.
At many points in golf history, Tiger has held the world number one spot as the best golfer on the planet. He held that spot for 281 consecutive weeks as well as 683 weeks over the course of his career. That’s an astounding feat.
In the year 2000, Woods scored six consecutive wins on the PGA Tour. The only other player to do that before him was Ben Hogan back in 1948. As the year ended, Woods had not only broken the record for the lowest average score in tour history but also was victorious in nine of the twenty PGA tournaments he entered that year.
While Woods has helped to redefine golf for the next generation, he has not been without his ups and downs in life.
From the period of 1994 – 2017 Tiger Woods experienced several knee surgeries, two stress fractures, four back surgeries with the last being the spinal fusion in April of 2017. Dropped out of several major tournaments due to physical ailments and pain as well as missing large portions of seasons during that time. He lost
his father and life-long mentor in May of 2006. Derailed his marriage through cheating scandals, drugs and alcohol accusations of which his wife eventually divorced him in 2010. The difficult times also involved the well-known driving incident in November 2009 in which Woods crashed into a fire hydrant, tree, and hedges as well as in a different incident was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Tiger Woods lost sponsors of AT&T, Accenture, Gatorade and Gillette who cut ties with the golfer in the aftermath of his scandal-plagued year.
However, through it all Tiger kept pursuing his dream of a comeback. He did the necessary physical and mental rehab. He consistently worked on getting better in mind, body & spirit. He would take the slings of words and arrows thrown his way for his mistakes and misgivings, however, Tiger continued to press on.
Finally, Tiger Woods got to raise his arms in victory once again, on that 18th hole on Sunday, September 23. However, this victory was so much sweeter based on the actual journey it took Tiger to get him back on top.
Tiger Woods like all of us has experienced his share of ups and downs, however, he never lost his Eye of the Tiger!
Tiger Woods, Congratulations, we applaud you!