All The Way Back

The Masters Golf Tournament advertises itself as “An Event Like No Other.”  This year’s Masters lived up to the billing.  The caliber of golf was elite.  There was high drama when golfers at the top of the leader board wilted under the smothering pressure.  The course was as beautiful as ever.  But all that paled in comparison to the win by Tiger Woods.

I remember the day I heard on the news of Tiger’s “trouble.”  The news came out slowly, but when the picture cleared, the result was too bizarre to be believed.  The golfing legend, the best player in the game, was arrested following a public fight with his wife.  As time passed and more details came to light, the situation went from bizarre to incredible to pitiful.  Tiger was so messed up.  His personal life was in shambles, and everything about him, including his golf game, fell apart.

I don’t know Tiger personally, and I have no inside scoop on what actually went on, but my sense in watching Tiger’s reaction to his fall from grace was that he was unrepentant, smug, condescending, and unapologetic.  After playing a round of golf, I would sit in the clubhouse and listen to my golfing friends pontificate on Tiger’s future.  It was unanimous- Tiger was finished.  And no one was sad about it.  He was reaping the rewards of his actions.

Tiger suffered a long string of physical ailments that kept him from playing, even if things were different.  He had back surgery and could barely walk, much less swing a club.

But as time went on, something slowly seemed to change in Tiger.  His attitude seemed to soften.  He became more introspective.  He seemed more mature, and with that maturity, a  sense of humility seemed to emerge.  His back began to improve, and he worked like never before to claw his way back.  When he was finally able to compete, his demeanor was different.  Softer.  His inner drive was still strong, but it’s as if the old Tiger was replaced with… someone grounded and tempered.  After a long grind to regain his form, he made it all the way back when he tapped in for a one shot Masters victory.

I think I’m as surprised by the overwhelmingly positive response of the public as I am his regaining of his skills.  I began to wonder: why did the public take Tiger back?  Why did people weep when he won?  What make all of America shout “Tiger, Tiger, Tiger?”  Here’s my guess.

I believe we like to see hard work and sacrifice rewarded.  The skill and talent required to win at that level is practically impossible, and Tiger faced longer odds than most in the field.  He was overcoming serious physical issues.  He was competing against players younger and stronger than himself.  And yet there he was.  I believe America grasped how hard Tiger had to work to get there, and winning felt to us like his hard work was rewarded.

I think people cheered for Tiger because people respond to humility.  There was quite a while in Tiger’s journey when he seemed oblivious to his failure.  It didn’t appear to bother him. There was no contrition.  And it was only when people sensed a softening of his attitude did they seem to see him in a different light.  Watching Tiger embrace his children following his win showed a humility that had been missing earlier, and America responded.

And finally, I believe people cheered for Tiger because we love to see stories of redemption.  There’s just something about a story of restoration that strikes close to our hearts.  I believe redemption resonates with us because we all have our own stories of failure, and to see someone restored after a fall makes us hopeful that we can be restored, too.

If I could choose one takeaway from this year’s Masters tournament, it would be this: if Tiger can make it all the way back, you and I can too.

7 thoughts on “All The Way Back”

  1. I have watched this Tiger thing too. But I wonder. Has he softened? Has he repented? I don’t follow Tiger. Besides this perception of humility had anyone actually heard Tiger say he has learned, or grown, or changed? If so great, if not I fear this Tiger thing is just another sports comeback. I do recognize it was a great sports comeback, but had there been a moral comeback? I don’t see this as a story of redemption. I realize that is between him & God. I am praying for Tiger Woods. I know God can transform anyone. For me this was a sport victory.


    1. What an awesome write!! You should write a book if you haven’t already! Your perspective on things always seems to be right on target and goes straight to the hear of the reader. Thanks so much !


    2. Joann, thanks for your comments. I love how people can watch the same event and see it from a different perspective. I’m with you- I have no way to know for sure if this is merely a sports story or there is deeper personal redemption. I also don’t know if a personal redemption, if present, has a spiritual element. I’m pulling for Tiger in a personal and spiritual way. Sports is here and is gone in a flash. Personal and spiritual redemption can be permanent. Thanks for reading and responding.


  2. What an awesome write!! You should write a book if you haven’t already! Your perspective on things always seems to be right on target and goes straight to the hear of the reader. Thanks so much !


  3. Well said, Pastor George. I have followed Tiger’s events during his great days in late 1990’s through today. By far I do not consider him my hero, but a person that went from GREAT to physical, emotional, and most probably spiritual disaster over night. That occurred in 2009. I will never judge him for I never want to be judged.

    It appears that over the course of all his trials, tribulations, and medical recoveries that has taken almost all of ten years, there seems to be a sense of humbleness that is more apparent now then ever before. His press conferences, speaking more openly than ever before, his friendships appear more genuine, and the love for his kids just to mention a few thnigs that seem to be in his favor.

    My prayers for him are that the media attention that he is getting (which is alot) does not put him back on a slippery slope that could enable him to forget the last 10 years, and send him back to his years of greatness. I truly believe that will not happen; that’s the reason we must never allow Satan to get a foothold on us, cause it is easy to slide back down without much notice in a hurry.

    More importantly, I pray that some of his golfing friends who appear to be Christians can help him realize WHO he really needs in his life.


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