It was February 2006 and I was nervously watching my dad laying in a hospital bed. He had been in the hospital for a day with chest pains. Of course, I’m thinking I hope it wasn’t a heart attack. The doctor comes in the room and says it was a mild heart attack. Mild? I guess that’s a good thing. The doctor now says he will need Angioplasty surgery and a stint put in his artery. “Come again”, I’m saying. I’ll spare you the details of the procedure. At this point I need something to cheer me up if not for my dad. “So dad, I bought tickets to the Master’s practice round on Wednesday. But if you don’t have the surgery and die I’ll give them to someone else, but I’m going.” Laughter is definitely the best medicine. That broke the tension and all was right after that. April the 5th we were headed to Augusta to watch The Masters. It was a beautiful day and there was one person we had to see – Eldrick Tont Woods aka Tiger. We followed him for about seven holes. He actually walked right by us on Hole 16. That guy I saw then is NOT the same guy I’ve seen the last few years.
In November 2009, when his Cadillac SUV crashed, his bubble of a world crashed too. His guarded personal life was now on Front Street. The sex scandal, his wife divorcing him, and the public scrutiny was enough to deter some of his major sponsors. However, he kept enough of them to continue to drive the viewership in tournaments he played in. He still had a resemblance of a game that could have possibly won a major championship and a few tournaments. He even battled back to being the number one golfer in the world again in March 2013. A year later would begin the run of surgeries that would physically leave him as an almost shell of himself. Along with that, he couldn’t seem to fix the mental aspect of the game. You could see him take swings and putt with uncertainty. He started not trusting himself. He lost his mojo. Since his first back surgery in March 2014, he has played just 19 worldwide events, with only one single top-10 finish, seven missed cuts and three withdrawals. He attempted a comeback after more than a year away from the game late in 2016 but played in just three tournaments, missing the cut in January at the Farmers Insurance Open and withdrawing after one round of a tournament in Dubai in February. In April of this year, Tiger had his fourth back surgery. By his own admission, it seemed to have went well and he was feeling great.
That good feeling went away this week. Tiger was arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence in his hometown of Jupiter, Florida. The police revealed that both tire rims on the driver’s side of his Mercedes had minor damage and the front and rear tires on that side of the vehicle were flat. They found him early Monday on the side of the road, with his car running, his brake lights on, and his right turn signal flashing. He was by himself and wearing his seat belt. He was taken into custody at 3 a.m. booked at 7 a.m. and released on his own recognizance at 11 a.m. Tiger was cooperative and took a Breathalyzer test, registering 0.000 on it. “I understand the severity of what I did, and I take full responsibility for my actions,” Tiger said in a statement. “I want the public to know that alcohol was not involved. What happened was an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications. I didn’t realize the mix of medications had affected me so strongly.” Woods apologized to his family, friends and fans and said, “I expect more from myself, too. I will do everything in my power to ensure this never happens again.”
Before, I held out hope for Tiger’s comeback. Not as the Tiger, we saw years ago, but a decent golfer who could possibly win at least one tournament. Sad to say, I don’t think we will ever see a decent golfer. Tiger, if you’re reading this, please tuck your tail between your legs and go back to Butch Harmon. He did more for your mental game than your swing. I know it’s some tension, maybe even bad blood between you two, but if you want to be a resemblance of yourself you need to make amends. That’s my two ‘sense’. It doesn’t happen often when a person is so dominant in a sport that it takes the world by storm. That’s why it’s hard to see something like this happen to him. You expect the greats to ride off into the sunset as their careers begin to slow down. You don’t expect this. Jack Nicklaus said it best, “I feel bad for Tiger. Tiger’s a friend. He’s been great for the game of golf. I think he needs all our help, and we wish him well. As I’ve told Tiger and we’ve talked about it 100 times, does anybody want to see their records be broken? Of course not. But do I want to see somebody not have the ability because of physical problems, not to be able to compete to have that chance? I don’t like that at all.” I sure hope Tiger recovers for himself and his family not so much for golf.