The Tiger Woods situation is one that both fascinates and saddens me. With a near super-human golfing ability demonstrated over years gone by, naturally I’ve followed his career with great interest. In recent times, however, the once lauded Tiger has been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Having found success at a young age it now feels like Tiger has been around forever. Some would say Tiger is easily the best Golfer of the past twenty years and true or not, he certainly took Golf to the next level. Tiger got people talking, not because of the colour of his skin, but for a talent previously unknown in one so young. In 1995 aged just 19, Tiger competed in his first ever Masters Tournament and sure enough won his first major at just 21 years of age – not only was Tiger the first African American to win the Masters, he was also the youngest and recorded a record-breaking score. Tiger (although not yet retired) would go on to win fourteen Majors and would dominate Golf for many years pulling off some of the most inconic shots in the history of the sport. For any Golf fans out there, Tiger’s chip at the 16th in the 2005 Masters is to this day one of the best shots I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing. The poster boy for Golf both on and off the course there were no two ways about it, Tiger was unstoppable.
But as the old adage goes – all good things must come to an end. Tiger’s fall from grace could’ve been triggered by any number of things but it would be difficult to look past the unfortunate passing of his ever-present Father, Earl, in 2006. By 2009, now 32 years old and married with children, Tiger having crashed his car in the middle of the night was discovered to be having extra marital affairs with countless women, one by one more and more women came forward to the press eventually resulting in the end of his six year marriage to Elin Nordegren. Tiger took an indefinite break from Golf and since returning, has looked a shadow of his former self.
In 2010, Tiger underwent treatment for sex addiction and the many multi-million dollar endorsement deals slowly slipped away. Tiger now struggles heavily with niggling injuries and poor form and has fallen outside of the top 500 Golfers for the first time in his career, even more worringly, you may also have been greeted with a DUI mushot in your morning papers this week. It’s fair to say the Golfing world sympathises, but how did someone who seemingly had it all manage to throw so much away?
What was always evident when watching a young Tiger Woods was the passion, the adrenaline, the euphoria, you knew he was exactly where he was supposed to be. That’s all gone now. I looked at that mugshot picture with a heavy heart, those empty eyes, who was this person? I believe Tiger may be chasing the euphoria of old, the warning signs were there with the sex addiction, the highs of Golf were slowly dissapearing and something had to fill the void. The world labelled him a love rat, but all I saw was a lost young man crying out for help. Sex addiction should be taken just as seriously as any other addiction, it’s important to recall the loss of his Father at this point as well, he was the anchor in Tiger’s life and was no longer there to offer the guidance that Tiger had once so heavily relied upon. It’s very easy to lose your way in times of grief, as all too many of us know. Tiger also got rid of his long-time Caddie and close friend Steve Williams, I never thought much of this at the time but being an addict myself I know exactly what he was doing – simply pushing away those who meant the most.
The recet DUI charge Tiger claims is the result of prescription drugs. I myself went through a stage of painkiller addiction and coupled with alcohol abuse I was getting quite the kick from them on very much a daily basis. It’s no coincidence that Tiger’s arrest coincides with another failed comeback.
People will say he still has everything; money, kids, the beautiful wife, but the truth is addiction doesn’t care who you are or what you have. Each and every one of us can succumb to addiction, now imagine doing it under the world’s spotlight. As a recovering addict watching another human being slip further and further into the throws of addiction, I can only describe it as being like watching a car crash in slow motion. Sometimes we forget that public figures are only human, so think twice before you berate someone for their behaviour, it may well be a desperate cry for help.
I truly hope that Tiger finds his way back to the top once again and more importantly, finds that little bit of inner peace he so desperately needs.
You’re still the man Tiger,