Tiger’s redemption after years of disgrace

Catching up: Woods is just two short of Sam Snead’s all-time PGA Tour title record of 82. © Getty

Are comebacks the greatest stories in the world? On Sunday, Tiger Woods won his first golf tournament since 2013, completing a remarkable return from injury and personal disgrace.

Tiger Woods has won the Tour Championship — his first tournament victory in five years.

He finally made it to the finish with a simple four-inch putt to win the Championship by two shots. The tears he had been fighting back burst forth. “I just can’t believe I’ve pulled this off,” he said.

Less than a year ago, Woods was ranked 1,199th in the world after spinal fusion surgery — the latest of multiple operations.

Before the miracle in Atlanta, “Woods was somewhere between holy relic and washed-up film star,” writes Tom Fordyce for BBC Sport.

In late 2009, stories emerged about Woods’s multiple infidelities. In February 2010, he gave an extraordinary televised statement in which he said he had gone into rehab. He has also been in two car crashes

Some have called this the greatest individual comeback in sporting history.

Rival claims include Muhammad Ali, who was stripped of the world heavyweight title because of his objections to the Vietnam War and returned to win the title, and Magic Johnson, who came back to play in the NBA for a year after an HIV diagnosis.

But Woods’s reputation sank lower than almost any other sporting hero. Is this the ultimate tale of redemption?

Eye of the tiger

Woods’s many failures show he is human, and therefore make him sympathetic, say some. It is one thing to be old or injured, but Woods was mocked by a world that relishes seeing heroes brought low. His return to win a tournament so late in his career is an incredible tale.

Rubbish, reply others. Unlike Ali, Woods did not sacrifice his career for his beliefs, nor did he have to cope with a stigmatised disease like Johnson. His problems were self-inflicted, making him far less sympathetic. And one victory does not mean Woods will return to the dominance of old.

You Decide

  1. Is Tiger Woods a hero?

Activities

  1. Work in pairs. List five qualities each that you think a role model should have. Briefly explain each and then choose the most important one between you.

Some People Say...

“Golf is me.”

Tiger Woods

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Tiger Woods won a golf tournament for the first time in 1,876 days on Sunday, winning the Tour Championship, the traditional end of the golfing season.
What do we not know?
Whether this recent stunning victory will serve as a springboard to relaunch Woods’s career. He is now 42 years old which, even for golf, is old.

Word Watch

Tour Championship
Part of the PGA Tour, the Tour Championship is hosted at East Lake in Atlanta, Georgia, ever year. It is the final event of the four-tournament FedEx Cup.
The latest of multiple operations
As well as a broken leg and three reconstructive knee surgeries, Woods has long had terrible back problems.
Muhammad Ali
Ali was sent to prison for refusing to serve in the Vietnam War.
HIV diagnosis
This was in the 1980s, when public understanding of HIV and AIDS was still limited. Johnson’s recovery helped destigmatise the condition.

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