Woods’ Victory is a Story of Fatherhood, Not Redemption


Photo courtesy of Time Magazine

After 14 years of scandals, injuries, and other setbacks, many golf fans and professional athletes are calling Tiger Woods’ Masters win last Sunday the greatest comeback in sports history. For Woods, however, it meant way more: It was the first time his two children got to see him at his best.

Twenty-two years after Tiger Woods embraced his dad after winning his first Masters at Augusta National Golf Club in 1997, the same man, in his trademark Sunday red shirt and black Nike cap, hustled off the green to embrace his 10-year old son Charlie, also dressed in red and black. Woods won his 15th career major Sunday, marking his first Masters tournament win in 14 years in what the media, golf lovers of all levels, and other professional athletes are referring to as the greatest single moment and comeback in sports history.

Woods dominated his competition with his classic stone-cold look of concentration on his face. Except the Woods we saw last weekend wasn’t the same man at all. The man who lifted his arms and let out a roar now knows defeat and heartbreak, and what it’s like to hit rock bottom and stay there for several years. He has played both the hero and the villain.

I’ve seen many tweets and articles refer to Woods’ victory as redemption, and while Americans do love a good redemption story, I don’t see it as such — it’s more than that.

For Woods, this wasn’t about changing the way the media depicts him or making the haters and doubters eat their words. This is the part of Woods’ story where he finally got to show his children firsthand what he’s been able to accomplish his entire career.

As crowded as Augusta was and as loud as fans’ “Tiger, Tiger!” chants were, Woods only had eyes and ears for his mother, girlfriend, and his children — Charlie and his 11-year-old daughter Sam. Woods didn’t want the victory for himself as a professional golfer as much as he needed it as a father.

Sam and Charlie were born around the time that Woods stopped winning championships and started making the tabloids for the things he was doing outside of golf, including his consumption of drugs and involvement in several extramarital affairs. He ruined his marriage with Elin Nordegren, hurt the people who cared about him most, and temporarily ruined his career.

Of course, his children know how great of a golfer their father once was. They’ve seen clips and have been told stories their whole lives. However, until Sunday, they had never seen him at his very best. When Woods put on his fifth green jacket, which he joked fit him perfectly, Woods was able to show his kids the value in never giving up.

Before the tournament, Woods told Greg Cote of the Miami Herald, “I want them to see [for themselves] what I’ve been able to do my entire career.”

He gave them an experience that will stick with them forever.

“That little boy will never forget hugging his dad at Augusta, and I am sure the crowd’s roar will ring in his ears for the rest of his life,” Scott Jennings wrote in the Los Angeles Times.

Whether you hate him or love him, it’s impossible to deny that Woods’ comeback is a victory for anyone who has ever made mistakes — especially parents. Woods kept pushing forward when most of us would have elected to leave the limelight.

“Fighting and overcoming personal demons resonate with just about every person,” Jennings wrote. “[Woods] fought his publicly and emerged a better man; he gave everyone fighting pain, addiction, and broken marriages hope that better days lie ahead.”

He also overcame a neck injury, a sprained MCL, several injuries to his Achilles, and two back surgeries.

As Woods lifted his son into the air and squeezed his eyes shut, goosebumps covered my entire body as I thought about the many times that my dad has embraced me after a big win or a painful loss. I also thought of all the times my dad filled me with pride because of the things he’s overcome and fought tirelessly for, and I looked forward to the many times in the future where I will be the one uplifting my own children.

After 14 years of cheating scandals, battles with addiction, injuries, and numerous failures and disappointments, Woods won his most important Masters tournament yet by doing all that any father can hope for: seizing the chance to show his children who he is at his very best.