Comeback or Redemption?


I admit it. I had a few tears watching Tiger Woods win The Masters yesterday. My wife and daughter were napping on the overcast Sunday and I was doing some client work. It was 1:48 pm when I got an ESPN update saying Tiger had taken the lead at the Masters. I hardly watch tv anymore, but this I had to watch.

The announcers were handing Tiger the win with a couple holes to go. You had the feeling that they and everyone else in attendance wanted Tiger to win. There was a split second after he made the final putt that the crowd cheered. But it was when Tiger grabbed the ball and thrust his arms up in victory that the crowd roared. It was a truly remarkable scene.

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So why did we all want Tiger to win so bad? Why did I take a break to watch? Everyone is calling it “one of the best comebacks in sports history.” I’m undecided. Tiger hadn’t won a major in 4,015 days. Tiger was part of incredibly embarrassingly and self imposed events that led to an ugly divorce. Tiger had a DUI from overdoing it with his meds. It was only 2 years ago that Tiger said he was done. He couldn’t walk and had no idea if he would ever live a normal physical life again. There’s a mountain sized amount of adversity that Tiger Woods has dealt with - because he’s human.

Tiger’s adversities are not unique. They are publicized because he is an iconic golfer and incredibly famous. In sports, everyone loves an underdog and a good comeback. But Tiger is superhuman. When someone in any sport or industry has an unquenchable desire to win, the work ethic to perfect their craft, and a bit of God given talent - they are never counted out. Even if it’s it been 14 years since he won golf’s holy grail. So comeback I’m not so sure.

What I see is redemption. Tiger Woods is not the same man from 1997-2010 that everyone loved and adored. Tiger Woods is ALSO not the scandal filled athlete we knew of the last 8 years. His relationships are ugly. His health deteriorated. He is father. He is a son. He is a person.

We all wanted Tiger to win is because we all fall from grace. Sometimes more often than not. We all have some sort of “darkness” that lingers inside and can randomly or routinely make appearances for everyone to see. We just aren’t public figures like Tiger Woods. But.. when we screw up we might as well have the same amount of coverage he does because that’s how it feels.

We are so hard on ourselves. We live to hide ourselves, our real selves, from everyone. The truth is that the more we try and suppress what we feel are our inadequacies, the more likely we are to make bigger mistakes. Being comfortable in your own skin can take a lifetime, but we don’t need to walk the planet being apologetic about who we are or who we want to be. In fact, once we are exposed it creates a sense of relief that can trigger more positive life decisions and reflections for good.

This is what happened on Sunday with Tiger Woods and the world was watching. This was not his best Masters by any means but many are considering it his most historic. Why? Because Tiger was down and out in golf and in life, but he had the patience, resilience, and nerve to fight back. He didn’t let his mistakes define him. He simply got to where he belonged and made a lasting moment in this slice of his life.

You can and should fight against yourself and fight for yourself. Good things may happen.