Every now and then, a person comes around and somehow leaves an indelible mark that changes the way you view life forever.
In my case, perhaps because we both had a passion for the game of golf, that person was Tiger Woods.
I have followed his career from the time he was a junior golfer, when he won the 1996 US Amateur Championship and my youngest son was still to be born.
We can recall when his fellow competitors were resigned to the fact that if TW was in the field, then they were merely competing for second place.
Numerous endorsements were on the table for him, aside from the prize money he won in tournaments. As far as the golfing fans were concerned TW was infallible. The crowd, his fans, the media made him their god.
And then he crashed.
In November 2009, he fell from grace in the eyes of the crowd, the fans and most especially the media.
Witnessing his rise to that level of stardom, which no one in the game of golf has since reached, only to fall flat on his face was very painful for me to watch.
At that time, when it seemed that there was nothing he could do to make the public stop their attacks and allow him to defend himself, I felt for him even more deeply. Perhaps what made matters worse for me was that the only thing I could do was sit and watch.
From the sidelines, I watched his appearance at Torrey Pines earlier this year, his appearance in this year’s US Open and then at last week’s PGA Open, the year’s final major. I found myself cheering him on as I would a dear friend fighting for his life.
However, aside from obsessing over his golf swing, which I feel has been tweaked to save his back and leg from further injuries, I focused more on his facial expressions and body language.
I couldn’t help but notice a soft side to him that I never saw in the pre-crash days. He appeared more approachable, more human.
Though it is evident that his focus in getting the job done is still 100 percent of who he is, there is an air about him that seems to have an element of “detachment” from the outcome of the game.
Perhaps this is because at one time, he had the experience of having it all—marriage, health, public acceptance, adulation, and then losing all of these almost overnight.
And now, he is being given another opportunity to rise anew.
For though we are seeing that famous Tiger “fist pump” back on our screens every time he drains those long, seemingly difficult-to-sink putts, I feel that there is a deeper sense of joy in him, a thankfulness and perhaps a feeling of humility in the way he carries himself.
So more than all the trophies and championships he has given us and probably will give us, looking at how he has played so far this year, I feel that this sense of joy—perhaps the result of the detachment I spoke of earlier—and sense of humility could be by far the most valuable gifts he has given not just to golf, but to the game of life and to humanity itself.
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