Whether you’re a casual sports fan, an avid sports fan, or no sports fan at all, the name Tiger Woods is known throughout the world. Woods has arguably been one of the most dominant athletes of all time. Big Cat, as he is known among his peers, has collected 79 PGA Tour Victories and 14 Major Championships. Between 2000 and 2001 he won four consecutive majors, which many have dubbed the “Tiger Slam” as he won the 2000 US Open, the 2000 British Open, the 2000 PGA Championship, and the 2001 Masters Championship in the span of 10 months. A career that one could only dream of.
However, while Woods has enjoyed many legendary achievements, he has had numerous legendary mishaps as well. His fall from dominance began in 2006 when his late father, Earl Woods, succumbed to his battle with prostate cancer. This was devastating for Tiger. Earl Woods was a former infantry officer who served two tours of duty in Vietnam and brought this military attitude to his parenting. Earl made it apparent to Tiger at a very early age that Tiger was not any ordinary child.
Tiger was special; and part of being special meant following a strict set of rules and guidelines that would allow for his unique potential to come to fruition. Part of this meant following a robust regiment outlining exactly what Tiger would do, how he would do it, and how long he had to do it. Everything from what time he had to wake up in the morning, to how long he would have to hit balls on the range; even how long he had to study. Everything was laid out for him by his father because this was the way his father believed he would reach his “GOAT” (greatest of all time) potential. This extremely discipline served Tiger very well for a long period of time. But, after his father passed it almost seemed like Tiger’s discipline had passed too.
Despite his father’s death, Tiger was able to win the 2006 British Open at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, UK. This was by far the most emotional anyone had ever seen Tiger on the course. It was evident that this championship was not for him, but for his late father. Tiger seemed to be keeping himself together amidst the horrific events that had occurred in his personal life. However, that was all about to change.
Following his infamous triumph at the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines, Tiger began his slide to the bottom. In November of 2009 it was reported that Tiger had been seen with another woman. Pictures had been leaked that supported the idea of a polygamous relationship. The story was portrayed on every news outlet you could think of, and on November 27th it was reported that Tiger had crashed his SUV into a fire hydrant just outside his Florida home. That wasn’t even the worst of it, as more and more women started coming forward about the relationships they had with Tiger while he was married. He had no choice but to issue an apology on December 11th explaining the mistakes he had made, and that he was admitting himself into a rehabilitation centre for sexual addiction.
Tiger took a six-month hiatus from the game and returned to compete in the 2010 Masters. However, since 2009 when his personal life blew up, the icon has never returned to the success he once had.
So why am I telling you this? I am telling you because Tiger is in the midst of another comeback. Tiger returned to professional play in November of 2017, after coming off his fourth back surgery and a DUI arrest earlier in the year. It was later determined that Tiger had reacted unexpectedly to some prescribed medication, causing him to be impaired.
Nevertheless, Tiger has overcome his recent shortcomings and put together a solid season, with six top-10s, two runner-ups, and a spot on the Ryder Cup Team as a captain’s pick for the US as they look to defeat Europe in Paris next week. This is not to mention a solo second place finish at this year’s PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club, Missouri, in which he had tremendous final round score of 64.
Well, is Tiger back? That answer depends on what you define as back. If ‘back’ is playing well, and competing in tournaments; then yes, I do believe Tiger is back. However, if ‘back’ is winning tournaments, competing every time you tee it up, and being the favourite when you enter majors; then no, Tiger is not quite there yet.
That all being said, I do believe this year will be very exciting and possibly historic, as there are definitely signs that Tiger could be on his way to the top once again.
Sebastian Farkas is a 3rd year Politics student and Sports and Wellness Editor for The Athenaeum