It took five years but it finally happened.
The best golfer of all-time finally got back in the winners circle, a place where himself, and everyone else in the world, never thought he would be again. Tiger Woods decisive win in the Tour Championship wasn’t just a win for Woods and his legacy, it was a win for every person who never thought they could make it back; for every human being that doubted themselves after adversity.
During the last several years, Woods, who at one-time seemed super human, was more human than any of us hoped he would be. His serial infidelity derailed not just his career but his marriage, leading him down a spiraling out-of-control life that ended with back fusion surgery. The mental anguish we saw him endure was painful enough, but the physical aspects were debilitating. At one time, Woods could not walk from his living room to the refrigerator. His pain was — literally — that bad.
Now, he is back on top of the golf world, just a shot away from not just winning the Tour Championship, but winning the entire Fed Ex Cup. Had Justin Rose not hit the shot of his life on 18 in Atlanta, Woods would be hosting both trophies this morning.
Nobody has ever question the talent Woods possesses. They have, at all turns, questioned his judgement and his heart. It is the second part of that equation that has been answered for good. After substance abuse problems related to his back surgery, having a “Hail Mary” surgery that might or might not work, Woods had to dig down deep to see if he could even swing a club. But chipping soon became hitting a soft sand wedge. Then hitting wedges soon turned in to practice sessions where he could hit a few seven irons. At the end of the day, he grinded it out until he was ready. And ready he was on Sunday.
The scene in Atlanta as Woods walked up the 18th at historic East Lake Golf Club was one for the ages. It reminded me of what it was like when you lead the British Open, except bigger. At The Open Championship, the fans are welcome to surround the 18th green for the final group on the final day. That was the scene in Atlanta, only ridiculously larger than life. Hundreds and hundreds of fans engulfed Woods as he walked up the 18th. It was a mad house, but it was also a scene that will be etched into sports fans memories for years to come.
And don’t think the PGA Tour players aren’t happy Tiger is back, because they are. Several of them hung around to congratulate Tiger. Ironic, really, when you think about it. A few weeks ago, Woods hung out to congratulate Brooks Koepka when he won the PGA Championship. Do any of you think that would have happened 20 years ago. That would be a no. But this is a different Tiger. A more resilient Tiger. A more compassionate and friendly Tiger. And, in so many ways, a more appreciative Tiger.
Tiger Woods is back. And in completing that monumental quest, he gave all of us hope that we can get back too.