"It means a lot more to me now in the sense I didn’t know if I’d ever be out here again"

It was a sight I never thought I would witness again, a look of dogged determination; the red polo shirt bursting from the TV screen, Tiger Woods marching purposefully. He was on the cusp of coming back to the big time.

A career that delivered so much, a man that changed the game of golf. His glories though for the best part of five years have been resigned to the history books, a little over 18 months ago Woods cut a sorry sight, broken and alone. 

His severe back injuries looked set to not just curtail the career of one of the greatest ever to grace the course but to bring a stuttering end to it. Woods playing problems seemed paltry compared to the issues in his private life. In May 2017, the golfer was arrested for DUI.

Police said Woods was found asleep at the wheel of his Mercedes in Jupiter, Florida. The car was stopped in the right lane with the engine running and partially in the bike lane. Woods had two sleep drugs, two painkillers and the active ingredient for marijuana in his system when he was arrested.

In the report the officers noted that Woods had “extremely slow and slurred speech” and that he “did not know where he was.”

According to the police report: "Woods had changed his story of where he was going and where he was coming from. Woods also asked how far from his house he was."

When police released the footage in June 2017 it had the propensity to become one of the most immutable images of Tiger’s distinguished career. One of the most successful sports stars on the planet, sat slumped in a chair in a police station, barefoot and confused, tired and alone. It looked like Tiger’s incredible story would have a depressing end.

Woods was battling back pain stemming from the injury that had curtailed his career, four operations were required to repair the damage. It wasn’t just his career that was suffering, Woods said he had no life during that period.

“This surgery was about quality of life because I didn't really have much, I've been in bed for about two years and hadn't been able to do much. People ask me, why don't you go out to dinner? I can't, I can't sit.

“So to be able to have the ability to go out and do things like that, and on top of that to be able to participate in my kids' sports again. As you know, I love sports, I like playing sports and I grew up doing it, so to be able to play with them again, man, I've missed it.”


But a new defining image was captured on September 23rd 2018, the red shirt, legions of adoring fans chanting his name: Tiger... Tiger... Tiger. Arms stretched to the sky, celebrating his 80th success on the PGA Tour, a success sweeter than any other no doubt, because it was far more unlikely than the 79 that preceded it.

Serial winners are hard to warm to, someone with Tiger’s trophy cabinet and bank balance should be tough to root for. This week he was the underdog, ever since he stumbled out of that police station, broken and alone – the World has been rooting for Tiger.

He completed the incredible comeback on Sunday, as he registered his first tournament victory in five years:

“It means a lot more to me now in the sense I didn’t know if I’d ever be out here again playing, doing this again,” he said. “I don’t know, 20 years ago, hell, I thought I was going to play for another 30 years. That’s just the way golf is. You can play until you’re 70 years old.

“Then, there was a point in time I didn’t know if I’d ever do this again. So yes, I appreciate it a little bit more than I did because I don’t take it for granted that I’m going to have another decade, two decades in my future of playing golf at this level.”



 

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