Ace. By definition according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is defined as
“a person who excels at a particular sport or other activity.”
When it comes to the game of golf there is no doubt in my mind (or any golf fan or observer for that matter) that Eldrick Tiger Woods is an ace. But the term ace has another reference. An ace is also the term that dates back to World War I for a fighter pilot that collects five confirmed kills (shoots down 5 enemy aircraft during aerial combat). By this definition, Tiger Woods is also an ace as with his victory on Masters Sunday became an Ace of Augusta National Golf Course and The Masters Tournament. Only Mr. Jack Nicklaus has more with 6 victories at Magnolia Lane.
Before I continue I just wanted to reiterate a few things. These are things that some of my regular readers already know about me but some newcomers may not. Admittedly, I have never been much of a Tiger Woods fans as I readily admit in this Tweet from today.
However, what you also need to know is that I’ve never disputed that he’s been the greatest of this generation. I’ve always admired Tiger’s command of the game, his dominance over his competition of this generation (and at times golf course architects) and the fact that he brought golfers to the game of golf who in all likelihood would have never picked up a golf club in the first place. The reality is that nobody has ever nor will anyone move the needle like Tiger has. It’s because of Tiger that his peers play for millions of dollars. One other thing that I wanted to point out is that I never wrote off Tiger like so many of my contemporaries have… I said well in advance of his showings in 2018 that it was inevitable that he’d be back.
It’s been often said that you have to sink to the very depths of rock-bottom before you can truly rise again. While I’m not going to beat the living daylights out of this subject let’s just quickly summarize some of the events that have transpired with Tiger that led to today’s comeback.
- The passing of his father (Earl)
- The issues at home with ex-wife Elin and the infamous 9-iron incident (not discounting other family issues that we didn’t know about that occurred behind closed doors)
- His driving while impaired (which I was very unaccepting and critical of. There’s never a good excuse for this)
- Multiple back surgeries
- Hater’s hating and writing him off (I’m sure that didn’t bug him… but I don’t know him)
- The short game yips (which ties in to above)
And I’m certain that there are points that I’m leaving out. Basically, Tiger Woods ran a gauntlet to get him to this particular point in time… and history.
Golf and Tiger fans alike saw the signs of great things to come over several events in recent history. Sure there was his recovery from injury following the most recent procedures on his back. The world was buzzing over social media every time Tiger picked up a wedge, or a driver and showed us a video of him swinging it. There were signs of competitive progress when he finished 9th in an abbreviated field at the 2017 Hero World Challenge. That single event would springboard Tiger to several top finishes in 2018. Events like his 12th place finish at the Honda Classic. Later that month his T-2 at the Valspar Championship and then a T-5 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. The month of May saw a Top-10 at The Player’s Championship. July saw even more progress and more encouraging signs of Tiger returning to form with top finishes at the Quicken Loans National and The Open Championship at Carnoustie. The PGA Championship at Bellerive in August fans were witness to another top finish in a Major Championship which led us into the Fed Ex Cup Playoffs. It was at the Tour Championship when he won his 80th title and everyone was saying that he was back. As far as I’m concerned at the time his form was back but he wasn’t.
That changed on April 14th, 2019 on Masters Sunday. Overall, the 2019 Masters Tournament was as exciting as it gets. The number of player’s that were in contention every day of the tournament was staggering and names like Fleetwood (my pick… didn’t turn out), Langer, Corey Conners, DeChambeau, Koepka, and Woods that were there after the first round. After Round 2 we saw DeChambeau slide out and making moves were Adam Scott, Jason Day and Francesco Molinari. When the dust settled after Round 3 we saw a lurking Tiger waiting to pounce on the field, Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka, and Ian Poulter very in contention which further set up the exciting finish on Sunday.
I’m not going to give a recap of the final round because we all know what happened but let’s just say that Sunday was a day that was very different on so many levels. With severe weather threatening Augusta, Georgia the tee times were moved up in an effort to avoid the dreaded Monday finish. It was a fantastic decision made by The Masters Tournament Committee and it was a day like we have never seen before. We had previous major champions in contention (Molinari and Koepka both of whom outlasted Woods in major’s in 2018) at the top of the leaderboard. According to reports, after bogeying the 4th and 5th hole it was his caddie (Joe LaCava) that woke him up.
“Never lose the tenseness, but be loose out there. Don’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.” – Caddie Joe LaCava to Tiger Woods
On the 15th hole, Woods catapult into the lead and the rest is history. Then came the magical walk up the 18th, the final putt and the roars that shook the fabrics of the Earth. Making it even better was that his mother, daughter, and son were there to be in his arms after that final putt. The way that life intended it to be. Exultation. Redemption. Accomplishment.
Like I said in my Tweet. “If you don’t truly appreciate this for what it truly is. You have no soul”. Many of us have been through our own trials and tribulations. I have and continue to do so after my stroke in September. Recently, I played my first round of golf since that stroke. While it wasn’t the same thing from an accomplishment level as what Tiger just did I understand what it means to fight, grind, scratch, and claw your way back. It’s because of his fighting and grinding why I appreciate this win more than any of Tiger’s previous 80. Congratulations Tiger! Now you’re back.
Tiger’s Winning WITB
M5 Driver | 9°
M5 Fairway | 13°
M3 Fairway| 19°
P•7TW Irons | 3-PW
Milled Grind Wedges | 56° & 60°
Golf Ball – Bridgestone Golf TOUR B XS
Until The Next Tee!!