For anyone going through a tough time right now, Tiger Woods’ sensational US Masters victory on Sunday evening can be a true inspiration, writes Craig Goldthorp.
Eleven long years after his last major win at the 2008 US Open, the American golfing great saw off the world’s best players in an incredible atmosphere as the Augusta National patrons whooped and hollered Tiger’s every move on his way to winning a 15th major crown.
Landing his fifth green jacket in sensational style is not bad for someone whose personal life over the past decade has often been splashed across the world’s media outlets for all the wrong reasons.
Woods’ woes first came to public attention back in December 2009 when he admitted several adulterous affairs with women which would eventually lead to his divorce from Swedish wife Elin Nordegren in August 2010.
The dad of two – whose personal wealth was estimated at $600 million – suddenly saw his world falling apart as sponsors Accenture, AT&T, Gatorade, General Motors and TAG Heur deserted him.
As if all that wasn’t enough, Tiger’s agonising back pain was flaring up forcing his withdrawal from several tournaments, with his latest absence of 15 months from competitive golf only ending in late 2017 after a third operation.
But the biggest contrast to Sunday’s uplifting images of Woods with his arms aloft and hugging his family after sinking an 18-inch putt to win came as recently as May 2017 when he was arrested near his Florida home for driving under the influence.
The bleary eyed golfing great was found asleep in his car, which was stationary in a traffic lane with its engine running.
He later stated that he had taken prescription drugs and did not realise how they might interact together.
Woods duly pleaded guilty to reckless driving and was fined $250, got a year’s probation and was ordered to undergo 50 hours of community service along with regular drug tests.
With such a fraught personal life, many golfing scribes thought that – far from winning majors – Tiger would not even be able to compete professionally again. At that point, it looked like his prospects of ever winning a major again were about as likely as three-time Masters champion Nick Faldo being named as Europe’s greatest ever Ryder Cup captain.
But Woods (43) has the heart of a lion and amazed the golfing world playing some fine tournaments during 2018.
Highlights included leading the Open at Carnoustie going into the back nine – he eventually ended in sixth – finishing second to Brooks Koepka at the USPGA and then winning the season ending Tour Championship.
But that was all trumped on Sunday in a virtually flawless final round of 70 for a 13 under par total which saw him pip Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele and Dustin Johnson by a single stroke. In doing so he proved that, whatever life throws at you, dedication, pure doggedness and a refusal to quit can help get you back to where you want to be. Oh, and being arguably the greatest player of all time also helps!