Scott Stinson: Followers embracing Tiger Woods’ tail-between-legs comeback most shocking plot twist but

After a match by which Tiger Woods completed nicely again of the lead, Lee Westwood was requested about him. “I don’t wish to say he’s not the golfer he was, however on the identical time golf offers you one and takes away one other.”

The Englishman famous that Woods’ varied ordeals had taken a toll: “To all of the gamers, it made him look a bit of extra human,” Westwood mentioned. “A bit extra like us.”

These feedback had been made greater than eight years in the past.

It’s a humorous factor to look again on the state of Woods from that point, when it appeared like he had hit absolute all-time low. On the finish of 2010, I used to be writing a chunk on the 12 months in golf, and my editor argued that the story wasn’t who received any of the large tournaments, however the struggles of Woods, which included a career-worst end on the Bridgestone Invitational, a match he had received seven occasions. My editor was proper, and was in reality fairly prescient. The Woods of eight years in the past was getting back from knee surgical procedure and his impossibly embarrassing constancy scandal. He was a punch line on all of the late-night exhibits, his beforehand non-public life had been revealed in nice element in his mortifying public confessions, and he had plainly misplaced his aggressive edge on the golf course.

The opposite hanging factor concerning the protection from that point is that nobody felt in the slightest degree sorry for Woods. He had been intense to the purpose of surliness on the course, susceptible to suits of anger that triggered golf purists to fan themselves anxiously on the break from decorum, and stored a good circle of pals who would discover themselves out of the circle in the event that they mentioned boo about him to anybody else. If a man who had all the things — and he did — wished to throw it away with a prolific collection of affairs, that was his personal rattling fault.

I used to be enthusiastic about this period of Tiger after Sunday’s occasions on the Tour Championship, the place he not solely received for the primary time in 5 years however did in order some kind of conquering hero, with the galleries at East Lake rapt of their devotion to him. Usually a back-nine stroll to a simple win is sort of boring, however that one became a protracted, triumphant march, a throwback to Woods’ glory years.

What I used to be pondering was: what occurred? When Woods crashed his Buick on that U.S. Thanksgiving 10 years in the past, entire cities might have been powered by the schadenfreude if such know-how was obtainable. Over time since, his story has largely been one in all humiliation piled on high of disappointment. There was a return to kind on the course within the early a part of this decade, though Tiger nonetheless couldn’t get it completed on the weekend at a significant championship, fairly presumably as a result of his rivals had been nicely conscious that he was, in reality, human — after which that every one fell aside when his well being issues moved from his knee to his neck and again. There have been failed comebacks and seasons lower quick abruptly and so many missed cuts and even a case of the dreaded yips. The background to all the on-course issues was a gradual reveal concerning the lifetime of Tiger Woods, which turned out to be surprisingly grim and miserable. Books and journal articles painted the image of a man who grew up with out social expertise, raised by a domineering father to be a {golfing} machine. When Earl Woods died in 2006, his son was adrift, pouring himself into navy coaching to fill the void. Earlier than the accidents caught as much as him, Woods was already a perplexing character, embarking on wholesale swing adjustments beneath new coaches a number of occasions though he had by no means had a severe challenger amongst PGA Tour rivals. To learn these accounts is to seek out Tiger a tragic and lonely determine. Even when he participated within the course of, such because the interview printed by Time journal in 2015, he didn’t sound like a cheery bloke. “I stroll 10 minutes on the seashore. That’s it,” he mentioned. “Then I come again house and lie again down on the sofa, or a mattress.”

Is that the sort of stuff that has turned across the notion of Tiger? The years of very public failure on the golf course, coupled with the small print of a damaged, withdrawn man? I think that many extra golf followers are accustomed to the man who at his peak constructed mansions and acquired yachts and palled round with sheikhs than the man who as soon as discovered himself inclined on the grass in his yard, unable to maneuver and solely rescued when his daughter occurred alongside, however plainly many followers have grow to be sympathetic to him anyway. It was simply final 12 months that Woods was charged with driving beneath the affect and confessed to struggles with painkillers, however this has apparently simply made him extra relatable.

All of which is ok. I’m not one to hope that he suffers everlasting disgrace for his misdeeds; I’m simply stunned that a lot of the general public, which was divided on him even when he was dominant, agrees. Are we actually simply suckers for a comeback story?

For all of the issues which can be outstanding concerning the profession arc of Tiger Woods, the truth that he would find yourself recast as a plucky — even lovable? — underdog could be probably the most shocking.

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