To witness Tiger Woods win a 5th Masters at Augusta, 11 years after his last major title, was just incredible. Woods was finished in the game just a couple of years ago. He had undergone 4 back surgeries, was ranked 1199th in the world and was hardly able to walk. Playing golf again was a long shot. I asked former player and pundit David Feherty at the time if Woods would ever return, and knowing Feherty and Woods talked, he told me it was doubtful.
So for 43 year old Woods to not only play again on the PGA Tour, but to win the Tour Championship and now the Masters, is staggering. His ex-coach Butch Harmon has correctly put it when he said that while Jack Nicklaus is the greatest champion of all time, Woods is the most talented golfer we have seen.
We saw that talent yesterday. We saw Woods, draped in his familiar Sunday red shirt, capitalize on Francesco Molinari's implosion on the 12th hole, when the Italian found the water. Woods played smart all week. He didn't make a double bogey. He played the percentages. He found the right areas of the greens. The way he was playing, one could feel he would take advantage of the par 5 holes, the 13th and 15th yesterday. He made birdie on both. Then he launched the tee shot that secured the coveted Green Jacket, an iron sent through the eye of a needle to a matter of feet on the 16th.
Woods beat the hottest players in the game over the last 12 months in Molinari and Brooks Koepka. He didn't fluke it, he won it. All the statistics will flow now. A 2 million dollar purse. 81 PGA Tour wins, 1 off Sam Snead's record. 6th in the world rankings. A 15th major crown, 3 behind Nicklaus.
However, I am not really interested in that, nor am I interested if Woods is nice person now. What I am interested in is how this front and back page story can inspire people around the globe. Tiger Woods has been public property ever since he was young. He has achieved magical things in the game, winning the U.S. Open by 15 shots, claiming all 4 majors, winning the Tiger Slam. On the down side, the 2009 sex scandal and arrest 2 years ago, drugged to the hilt on prescription medication for his back, made Woods an object of ridicule. The mugshot was of someone who was to be pitied, not admired. 'Sad' was the word people used. Woods' feats were in the past, in the rear view mirror and the consensus would be that he would drift into privacy and possibly obscurity.
What does yesterday say? It says that if you are struggling, if you are viewing life through a black and white lens, the colour of life can return. I know this myself having lost my best friend suddenly. It took the fortunate experience of working at a World Cup to realise that colour is out there, that beauty can return, that one can make a comeback, that good days are ahead. That people can and want to share in joy. Tiger Woods is the global symbol of that this morning. And it's for that reason I feel inspired by this sporting story for the ages.