There are times in life when you know you’re witnessing something special, and Sunday, watching Tiger Woods win for the first time in five years, was one of those times.
There have been plenty who doubted what may be the greatest comeback ever would even happen, including Eldrick himself.
“I didn’t think I’d ever play again,” Woods said just last week ahead of the Tour Championship. “When I was laying on the ground and couldn’t move for a number of months, golf is the furthest thing from my mind.”
There have been even more who said over the last five years that no, Tiger won’t win another major, he won’t win another tournament, he will never be competitive again on the PGA Tour.
Understandably so, as Tiger has undergone four back surgeries including one that was meant to help give him a normal life.
“Probably the low point was not knowing if I’d ever be able to live pain-free again. Am I going to be able to sit, stand, walk, lay down without feeling the pain that I was in,” Woods said after the Tour Championship. “I just didn’t want to live that way. This is how the rest of my life is going to be? It’s going to be a tough rest of my life.”
However, somehow, that final surgery relieved the pain and set him free to not only enjoy life with his kids but find himself in the world of golf again.
That’s exactly what he did.
The 2017 Hero World Challenge performance gave us hope that a man, who wasn’t sure he would ever be able to walk around his own house without pain, could still play the game. Weeks later we all hung on the edge of our seats as he made a PGA Tour cut on the number. A few months later he was in the hunt on a Sunday finishing tied for second and followed that up with another solid top 10 performance the following week.
We entered major season and saw him lead at The Open Championship, we saw him put together a performance worthy of a win at Bellerive in the PGA Championship only to come up just short.
The comeback was real, but still not complete.
Woods has worked his way back to the top at his own pace, on his own schedule, without worrying what the rest of us were saying and he rewarded us all on Sunday at East Lake in a scene that was emotional.
As he walked up the 18th fairway, he was surrounded, in the middle of the fairway, by hundreds of fans who just wanted to get a glimpse of the man who brought the sport of golf to the place it is today on his way to a win.
Sunday was one of those stop-and-watch days. No, it wasn’t a major championship, it wasn’t even a full-field event, but it was an event against the top 29 most consistent PGA Tour players this season, including 18 of the top 20 in the world, and Tiger Woods was winning it.
If you didn’t stop and watch on Sunday, I’m sorry, you missed something special.
Even Tiger knew it. “I just can’t believe I pulled this off.”
“Success depends almost entirely on how effectively you learn to manage the game’s two ultimate adversaries: the course and yourself.” – Jack Nicklaus