When I was a little boy my favorite thing to do was spend time with my dad on the weekend. We would watch movies, talk about sports, and of course, play video games. My dad never got into Final Fantasy or Sonic though. What he did love to play however, were sports games. We would spend hours upon hours playing Madden, Smackdown (it counts), Nascar, and of course, Tiger Woods golf. Maybe it’s just a memory that’s been slightly altered through rose colored glasses but I firmly believe that he and I could have gone pro with any of the Tiger Woods golf games. It’s strange, for as much as we both loved watching wrestling and football, I’ll always remember turning on the PlayStation and playing a round of golf before Tiger’s Sunday morning tee time. But as Tiger’s career began to fade and decent golf games became a thing of the past, all we had were memories. We cherished though memories so much that it never failed, anytime Tiger found himself chasing the leader, we were there, cheering him on. And it didn’t matter if Tiger came up short, because cheering on Tiger was like jumping into a time machine. It didn’t matter how many miles separated us, if Tiger was chasing, we were on the phone talking about everything under the sun, but with one eye always on the man in red.
It’s been more than a year now since my dad passed away, but there isn’t a minute that goes by that I don’t think about all of those amazing times we had. Today though, those memories were even stronger. It’s Sunday, Tiger’s wearing red, and he’s in the lead at the Masters. Cut to a couple of hours ago as I left work. I’m in my car, phone’s dead and I’m searching through every radio station until one of them finally starts talking about golf. It was then, just in time, through the static I could hear it. “Everything’s lined up,” the commentator said. Tiger was about to take the final putt of the Masters and in doing so would win. This was it. He was about it do it. And after one of the longest dramatic pauses in the history of dramatic pauses, they announced it. Tiger Woods has just won his 15th major.
It was with those words that every emotion I had bottled up came streaming out. I couldn’t believe he’d done it. I couldn’t believe the static filled radio station I was listening to managed to clear up long enough for me to enjoy this moment in absolute clarity. The last time I celebrated a Tiger major victory was in 2008. I was 19. Today I’m on the door step of 31 and while to some it may appear as if I’m sharing this moment alone, I am in fact, surrounded by hours and hours of memories of my dad and I enjoying every Tiger win that’s come before this one. So while he may not be next to me to enjoy it, I have the memories to remind me what it would be like if I did.
While the story about my father and I’s relationship is special to me, I know that there are so many people out in the world who have similar stories. So while some will watch today’s event and see it as just an older athlete reclaiming the top spot in a sport he once dominated, I and many others will see it for what it truly is. A moment in time for when we are reminded that sometimes a sport is more than just a sport. That sometimes a man for whom I will never meet can unintentionally transport me back to a time when I’m a little boy sitting in my dad’s living room trying to decide which golfer I’m going to choose to try and take down my dad who, as always, has chosen the greatest golfer of all time. Tiger Woods, thank you.