Tiger Woods won The Masters golf tournament yesterday. Tears filled my eyes. And I asked myself “Why?”
For me, The Masters is the important tournament in men’s golf. It has a such a long history (1934), and it’s always held at the same venue – the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. The course is extremely difficult, especially on the undulating greens. It’s a classic test of golf.
Tiger won his first Masters in 1997, at the age of 21. I was at the age of 48, already immersed in love for the sport. As a teenager, I hit balls towards the far fence of a field on my grandpa’s farm, and then searched through the stubble so I’d have more shots to hit. At home, the Don Valley Golf Course in Toronto was where I grew in the game, often playing alone with my thoughts.
Tiger became my hero in 1997. He hit the ball so far. He had charisma, something that I wanted. And he was black, showing excellence to my context of white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. The truth is that Tiger helped me become a fuller person. He was there on my journey to have far more of Bruce expressed in the world. And when he hugged his ill father after walking off the 18th green at Augusta, I melted. Here was a loving human being as well as an elite athlete.
Twenty-two years later, he bounces away from the 18th once more, arms aloft. This time, his young son Charlie is rushing towards him, and the tender embrace is offered to a new generation. It was just as sweet.
Much has happened since Tiger’s last major win in 2007. We’ve heard of his affairs, his car accident, his aching back. The “comeback” theme is heavy in the media. I appreciate the man’s effort to return to the top of his sport but my damp eyes come from another source, I believe. Tiger’s win yesterday allows me to revisit a younger Bruce – hitting balls toward that fence, trying to get over the creek in two on the 18th at Don Valley, walking fairways at the edge of sunset in search of a little white thing. I get to celebrate the journey I’ve travelled. I get to honour a younger version of me.
Thanks, Tiger, for pointing to a goodness that’s been inside me for a long time.