I was heading for the practice tee to see if some of the glorious golf I had seen at the Masters might have rubbed off on my chili-dipping, three-jacking self when a sweet lady came striding across the putting green, telling me she had a bone to pick with me.
This is ordinarily one of the gentlest women I know but she was steamed about the Observer putting Tiger Woods’ picture on the front page of Monday’s paper.
I have nothing to do with whose picture goes where, but she told me what she thought of Tiger, which was not much more than the dirt we were standing on. There were similar expressions in letters published in the paper on Tuesday.
For her and others who think as she does, I offer these thoughts:
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Tiger Woods is the best-known sports figure in the world. For more than a decade, he has dazzled us with his golf. He so captivated us, we had to watch him and as he won one tournament after another, we have speculated whether he might break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships.
We were privileged to see him play and he drew us to the tournaments and the television sets as no one ever had.
And then it all crashed down when it was revealed that he was cheating on his wife. He lost his beautiful family and his career went spiraling downward. He not only couldn’t win anymore, he couldn’t play well.
When, after all of that and after going winless for more than a year, he almost wins the Masters, when for nine holes on Sunday he is his old fist-pumping self, threatening to rise all the way to the top again, that’s news, big news.
Charl Schwartzel won, playing some wonderful golf on a day filled with drama, but to the general public, he’s just another guy with a good game, a sweetheart of a putter and a big heart. But he’s not an ongoing saga, a history maker. He made headlines that day but Tiger makes them every time he walks onto a course.
Woods has paid dearly for his transgressions. He has done just about everything he can do to atone. He’s tried hard and he’s still trying. Now it’s time to let it go.
Some will never forgive him, but apparently the majority of people have. Tiger got long standing ovations at 18th hole at the Masters. That’s after applause and cheering and shouts of encouragement all the way around, all four days.
Those people and undoubtedly millions more want him back.
If you can’t set aside Tiger’s follies and just watch him as a master of his game, it’s your right, of course. To each his own.
For me, the past is past and I’m looking forward to seeing him redeem his game. I subscribe to what the Rev. Timothy Healy, then president of Georgetown University, wrote:
“Watching anyone do anything well enlarges the soul.”
By the way, when my friend had spoken her piece about Tiger and turned to leave, she said, “I still love you.” That was nice.