I remember exactly where I was the moment Tiger Woods became personally relevant. It was on the golf course at Kingsmill resort in Williamsburg, and I was 9-years-old. My father and I watched him close out his historic 2000 U.S. Open win from the clubhouse, a bafflingly dominant affair in which he shot 12-under to second place Ernie Els’ 3-over. My dad looked at me and said, “You’re watching the best to ever play the game.” At that point, Tiger Woods immediately became my favorite professional athlete.
The man we see before us now is a vastly different one than the demigod that ran rampant through the tour in the early 2000s. We may never know what happened that fateful Thanksgiving weekend (let’s be real, Elin went at him with a nine iron like a whack-a-mole), but what we do know is that the Tiger that emerged from that wrecked Escalade, high as balls on Ambien, was a broken shell of the golfing robot that made golf cool more than a decade ago.
Tiger, I get it. Your dad was in the military and you were trained to be an iron-wielding assassin since an age when most of us were still sh*tting ourselves. You were probably a quiet, nerdy kid growing up -- that kid that lived on the military base and was really good at golf. After a couple years in college, it was “hello, world” time and you were unleashed onto a sport that would never be the same. All of the sudden, you weren’t Eldrick anymore. You had money that would take several lifetimes to spend, legions of fans, sponsors and sportswriters and “friends” that would suck your d*ck if you asked them to.
And, apparently, ask you did. I’m not going to hate on anyone for indulging in the fruits that life offers them. No one who hates Tiger for his decisions has the slightest idea of what it must be like, being able to take and do and drink and snort and bang whatever you want, to party with the most beautiful women and famous dudes, chicks throwing box at you like an Ikea dumpster. I bet the ride was incredible. Sure, tagging 120 women while married to the mother of your children might be a little excessive, but let those without sin cast the first stone. You did some f*cked up sh*t, but it should have been between you and Elin. Instead, the Twitter and TMZ and YouTube culture that we live in raked you through the coals of the most humiliating public shaming since “The Scarlet Letter.” Let’s be honest, people started loving Tiger because he was good at golf. That’s it. Stop acting like he cheated on your baby sister.
Imagine someone published the entirety of your internet browsing history (I’ll wait while you reflexively purge it). Imagine strangers you’ve never met knew intimate, personal details about your life. Imagine those sponsors dried up, those sportswriters crucified you, and those “friends” deserted you. Then, imagine you had to go in front of millions of people and hit a tiny ball hundreds of yards into a tiny hole, 72 times a weekend. I get why Tiger struggled over the past 30 months. Hell, I’m surprised he doesn’t break down and cry at every tee box. I would’ve quit golf and lived in seclusion on my yacht long ago. But he keeps at it, trying to reclaim a little bit of that magic, that aura that told everyone on tour that he was not to be messed with.
Two weeks ago Tiger won, something he’s done 71 times before on tour. But this one was different. It was different because, for the first time in a while, it was familiar. The big putts, the long drives, the surge and hold. And this weekend, at the Masters, the world needs you to win, Tiger. You, as incredible as it is, have become somewhat of an underdog, and America loves an underdog. I need to believe it’s possible to come back from the bottom of bottoms, to again become that scowling, cursing, club-tossing, unbeatable d-bag that I fell in love with twelve years ago. For bros everywhere, Tiger, we need this.