Sunday at the Masters will go down in history as one of the greatest days in golf history. Perhaps one of the greatest days in sports history. Hell… It is going to go down in just history. Period.
It seemed as though the entire country was together for a change, rooting for one common goal. For one man. It felt like it was the USA hockey team vs the USSR all over again.
Everyone was on the edge of their seat on Sunday. Some of us (the Tiger faithful) were all day. Others (the casual fan) were for the last couple holes. But we were all together, and all muttering the same three words…
“Come on Tiger!”
Some people (like my wife) who don’t understand our passion for Tiger… Were even rooting for him. Others who never watch golf were drawn to the TV rooting for him, and they had no idea why.
Sunday was fun again. Sunday was red again.
I will be turning 32 next month, and the last time I saw Tiger put on that green jacket I was a senior in high school. The wait was too long, the wait was painful, the wait felt endless…
But the wait made yesterday, Masterful.
In the late 90’s and early 2000’s when it truly was Tiger vs the field it felt like it would never end. We thought Tiger’s Reign at the top would be forever and he would blow past Jack’s record of 18 majors.
Did we take his dominance for granted? Absolutely we did. Like humans always do when we are witnessing something great. And then it happened… And it seemed some come out of left field, out of thin air you could say.
The winning just stopped. The dominance just ended. But our love of Tiger and our need for his dominance never did.
Tiger went through many struggles in the years he fell from grace. His sex addiction and very public divorce was ugly to see and hard to watch. That’s not the Tiger we thought we knew, that’s not the Tiger that brought us chills on Sunday’s.
Then his body started to fail him. Injury after injury. Surgery after surgery. Withdrawal after withdrawal from tournament after tournament. We thought the divorce was hard to watch… Watching him bent over in pain unable to simply just play golf was even harder.
18. A number all of us thought he would shatter, now started to think he would never touch. 14. That is where he stood, 14 Major Championships. An unbelievable accomplishment. But it just wasn’t enough. We wanted more. We needed more.
But doctors were saying his back could never handle the load again. Talking heads on TV were saying we would be lucky just to see our beloved Tiger simply swing a club again. Yet still we believed. Still somewhere in our hearts we thought…
He’s coming back. Our brains would fight us, but our hearts would always win the argument.
Then 2018 came and he was wonderful again. He played the best he had in what seemed like a lifetime. He was in the mix on Sunday’s in major tournaments but he just couldn’t seal the deal.
Until he broke through, winning the 2018 Tour Championship by two strokes, and coming close to capturing the Fed Ex Cup. Was it a major? No… But it was a start and it was something.
Sunday was fun again. Sunday was red again.
Seeing that sea of people follow him up the 18th fairway was a scene out a movie. And other than chills, what did that give us? Hope. Hope that all these years of wanting and dreaming and listening to our hearts that he would come back… Might soon come true.
Fast forward to April 2019. Masters Month. The Super Bowl of Golf. One of the top 3 sporting events of the year. The music, the scenery, Jim Nance. All things we love so much. And again…
With a real chance to compete and win.
He played strong in the first two rounds, and put himself in a spot to compete during the weekend. Then on “moving day” he made his move. Putting himself right where he wanted to be, the final group on Sunday.
Yes, this Sunday was different. An early start and playing in groups of 3 due to the impending weather. But it felt like 1997 again. It felt like 2001 again. It felt like a Red Sunday again.
He played Masterfully on Sunday. Instead of out muscling the field like we were used to seeing early in his career, he outsmarted them. Playing clean and when anyone around him made a mistake… He pounced.
We haven’t seen that laser focused face in years. It was a welcomed sight. And so was the famed Tiger Intimidation factor. Every hole off the tee he was miles ahead of Finau and Molinari, locked in and on a mission.
And, like Tiger did so many times in the past, he closed. The shot he made on 16 was one of the best we have ever seen him make. In a moment like that, to make a shot like that… Everyone said “he’s got this.”
I kept saying “is he really going to do this?” “Is this really going to happen?” And it did. And it was everything we could have hoped for and more. Seeing the first pump, seeing the emotion… It again in one word was, Masterful.
When Tiger hugged his son, every son in America was Tiger’s son in that moment.
Every single one of us remembered that hug with his dad in 1997 when he won his first. And to see those two images side by side made me want to do nothing but hug my father, hug my brother and cry.
“Men don’t cry” except for moments like this. We can’t explain why it means so much to us, it just does.
Tiger was and is part of our lives. We grew up with Tiger, we wanted to be Tiger. And losing that for 14 years felt like there was a hole in our hearts and it was filled yesterday.
Sunday once again showed that no one moves the needle like Tiger. Not in the sports world and not in the real world, sorry Kardashians. Tiger changed golf forever. The way we play the game, the way we watch the game and the way we dress for the game.
(Guarantee on every course in America this week guys will be wearing crew necks.)
Because deep down we are still all kids wanting to be Tiger. Chasing that dream we know we will never achieve… But get to live through him.
Thank you Tiger.
Now go do it again. Let’s make 19 a reality again.