The fandom and television network adulation stopped for a while, but now it’s all back. Tiger Woods is playing in The Masters this week and it will be celebrated as miraculous and with additional adjectives always best used sparingly, particularly in sport.
Woods apparently didn’t spend much time considering the possibility of his children being fatherless before he crashed on Feb. 23, 2021, while driving twice the speed limit on a notoriously dangerous Southern California road.
The golfer was lucky. Removed from his Genesis SUV via the “Jaws of Life” after suffering substantial leg injuries, Woods was alive, but a lot was unknown.
Would he have brain damage? Would he have a leg amputated? Would he walk and talk again? Would he play golf again? Would he compete again on the PGA Tour?
Would Woods, the 82-time PGA Tour winner and 15-time Major winner, seek a sixth victory at the Masters?
This week, Woods is answering many questions, none of which address his behavior as a driver. Now more than 13 months removed from his third automobile accident in 14 years — all the golfer’s fault — he is still a father in denial.
Tiger Woods: No Apology
While he previously appeared on national television to apologize for his poor personal life choices, Woods has yet to appropriate any public forum to address his knack for driving foolishly.
With his son, Charlie, a Mini-me, and his daughter, Sam, in the gallery, there was the golfer last December at PNC Championship in Florida, ever-sculpted, hitting golf balls. There he was grimacing, hitting more golf balls, walking with a limp, hugging his son often and always when the TV cameras were on.
A near-catastrophe avoided, Woods looked for an opportunity to be in the spotlight again — at a perfectly schmaltzy event made for television.
I am not a father. But I am a son whose father was my sports coach for more than a decade. The bond between fathers and sons? I get it. Learning sportsmanship, the importance of sport as fun, the value of respecting the other team? It’s omnipresent, imperative, practiced and with improvement always available.
Tiger Woods: Could Have Had Fatherless Children
With the world increasingly divided, I long for my father’s wisdom. It’s only available in dreams, and it still sometimes arrives 30 years after his death. I was 37 years old when my father died; Charlie Woods isn’t yet a teenager and he could have easily already started dreaming about what it could be like to still have a father.
In 2009, Woods crashed his sport utility vehicle near his home in Florida. It occurred after the extramarital relationships that prompted his mea culpa on national television. In 2017, Woods was arrested after police found him passed out behind the wheel of his car. The golfer said he had taken prescription medication before the accident and didn’t realize how the medication would affect his ability to drive.
Woods’ recent return to golf no doubt boosted the event’s charitable mission. Noble, it is. Jim Nantz and his CBS co-workers will fawn over Woods this week. It will be good for the network’s ratings.
In his first return to the golfing spotlight, Woods smiled a lot. But he also deflected all questions regarding his most recent car accident. He chose to address a nation, seeking an image makeover after his personal life choices. Woods knows his influence. He could have done the same as part of the immense audience he had with his son by his side.
Tiger Woods: Driver’s Education?
He could have discussed the value of safe driving. He could have said that after three accidents, he’s no longer going to drive because he relishes being a father. He could have announced the establishment of a youth (car) driving skills education foundation he’s underwriting.
He could have commissioned the biggest, baddest RV ever made, flaunted it (it’s Woods’ way) and hired a team of drivers.
None of that occurred. The public saw the beauty of golf played by friends, fathers and sons. The public saw Charlie Woods rubbing his fingers and thumb together after making a putt. It’s a well-known gesture of money, as is “driving for show, putting for dough.” Like father, like son.
No doubt, the younger Woods has seen the post-putt reaction before, and it wasn’t his best moment. The best of the two-round exhibition was camaraderie, affection, laughter, and skilled golf. I’d watch that every day.
Golfers often talk of missed opportunities, misreading greens and not capitalizing after a great shot.
Tiger Woods is no different, with one caveat. He’s playing in the Masters this week, while still sport’s most captivating athlete. He continues to have a chance to make the best shot any golfer has ever made. So far, he hasn’t attempted it. He could be doing so much more for fathers and sons and daughters everywhere. Long may they play together.