It was just over a year ago when the world was stunned by the news that Woods had been in a horrible car accident in Los Angeles. Woods’ right leg nearly had to be amputated but was saved by emergency surgery
. Afterward, many wondered whether Woods ever walk again, let alone play golf.
This year, 2022, is the Year of the Tiger
— a year that signifies courage, bravery and resilience.
And just perhaps, Woods had a feeling his fate would change this year, as he tweeted: “Happy Year of the Tiger” back in January.
No one but Tiger could have imagined that just 14 months after his accident, the Hall of Fame golfer would be out of his wheelchair and competing in golf’s most prestigious tournament.
Sometimes, winning isn’t about trophies. It is about refusing to be defeated by adversity. Refusing to give in to hopelessness.
Winning looks like Tiger Woods, battered but far from broken.
Personally, I feel connected to Tiger’s journey back. As a young girl, a car accident left me bedridden and unable to walk for more than a year. Doctors told my mother I might not walk again — but I was determined to prove them wrong. It was not easy. I leaned on my childlike faith, believing God would make me strong again. And I pushed through rehab — and the hurtful taunts from neighborhood kids.
Unlike Tiger, my dreams were small: learn to walk again, make the track team, become a cheerleader. I accomplished all three. Since then, anyone who has tried to limit my dreams gets the side-eye. Woods’ miraculous comeback reminds me of the lesson I learned early on: no one has power over me unless I allow it.
On Thursday, Woods did not win the first round but he did remarkably well. He finished the opening round at 71, 1 under par
. He was four strokes behind the leader, South Korea’s Sungjae Im.
Still, as we’ve seen so many times, even when Woods is not winning, he elevates the game and everything around it, as evidenced by the huge crowds and intense media buzz in Augusta, Georgia.
“There’s definitely a different feel in tournaments that he tees it up in,” golfer Patrick Cantlay, told Sky Sports
They call it the “Tiger Effect.” And it has forever changed the way we see the game of golf.
It’s difficult to describe the impact
Woods has had on the sport since his first Masters win in 1997, when he blew past his nearest competitor by a whopping 12 strokes — a record at the time. Woods was just 21 years old.
Since then, Woods has collected 82 PGA Tour wins, including 15 majors
. His last big win came at his most recent major, the 2019 Masters
, finishing 13 under par — just after his fourth back surgery
and fifth knee surgery.
On top of all the wins, Woods became a cultural icon — one of Madison Avenue’s hottest pitchmen — and in the process, transformed his sport.
Golf was no longer your father’s or grandfather’s game. Gone were the days of watching aging, mostly White men wearing “dad” shorts, putting balls over their ever-expanding bellies. Fiji’s Vijay Singh
, who won the Masters in 2000, was the one of the only nonwhite golfers on the pro tour back then.
Tiger made golf cool for younger generations. And all around the world, young and not-so-young Tiger-wannabes started sprouting up, especially among Black and brown players. Everyone, men and women, and children dreamed of playing like Tiger.
It should be noted that history was made on Thursday, for the first time in 86 years at the Masters, we saw three Black golfers
in tournament — Harold Varner III, Cameron Champ and Woods. Both Varner
and Champ grew up idolizing Tiger.
Tony Finau, who is of Tongan and Somoan descent, also played.
since I was a kid of competing against Tiger, playing against him at the Masters … That’s what my dreams were made of as a kid,” Finau told golf.com
about the first time he played with Woods, back in 2019 at the Masters. Finau said he picked up his first golf clubs in 1997 after watching Tiger’s historic win
In golf, there is Before Tiger and After Tiger.
Before Tiger, most sports fans and sports reporters argued over whether golf was even a real sport. Most agreed, it was not.
But then along came Woods, bringing his game of power and distance, smashing golf balls, talking about training regimens and weight lifting workouts. Woods dominated his competitors so completely that suddenly golf courses were being redesigned or as some put it, “Tiger proofed
Most golf courses were lengthened by thousands of feet to try to level the playing field — Woods and his power game had made old course designs too easy. Golf became a game built for strong, young players in top condition. And any pro golfer who couldn’t keep up with the Tiger proofing, quickly fell out of contention.
Woods turned golf into a spectator sport, and now, when he plays, television ratings spike. He’s why media outlets began jockeying for rights to broadcast golf majors and advertisers clamored for buy-in.
He’s also changed the game in other ways. Back in 1997, Woods won the Masters and took home $486,000
from the total shared prize fund of $2.7 million. Just before the pandemic hit in 2019, Wood’s Master’s win topped $2 million, out of a total record-breaking prize fund of $11.5 million. (This year’s prize money is expected to be the same as 2019).
Woods has made the men around him millionaires
. Before his rise, there were fewer than 10 golfers who earned more than a million dollars. But by 2018, more than 100 players were topping the million-dollar mark. By 2009, Woods had become the first-ever billion-dollar athlete
, topping his good friend Michael Jordan.