Return should mark redemption for Tiger



Column by Austin Schmitt

In April 1997, I was only 6 years old, but my life had already changed.

I watched a young man smile. I watched him dominate a tournament the way nobody had seen before.

He walked away from the final stage and gave his father the biggest hug as if to say, “We did it.” The kind of hug you give your dad at one of your finest hours.

That young man was Tiger Woods. I was in my grandparents’ kitchen when Tiger walked off the course and hugged his dad.

Watching the display of emotion, the display of greatness, it made me want to do the things he could with a golf club. He inspired me to take up the game of golf.

Thirteen years later, Tiger is back at the same course where he exploded onto the golfing world.

Thirteen years since he validated himself as a bonafide superstar he is back attempting to validate himself again. This time he is using the golf course to validate himself off the course.

By now, I’m sure everybody in the world is aware of the mistakes Tiger made. The facts are there, yet for me it is still hard to comprehend what he did.

How can the same guy who looked so genuine and so emotional throughout his entire golf career do this?

How can the guy who inspired a commercial with kids saying, “I want to be Tiger Woods” do that to his followers?

After watching his press conference Monday afternoon from Augusta, it brought back memories of the old Tiger. The Tiger whose smile could immediately make you want to be him was back, and he was ready to get back to his normal life.

I don’t want to condone anything Tiger did, but I feel as if I am ready to move on from all his “transgressions.” It’s time to start talking about Tiger on the golf course, and how he can pull out the Masters this week.

But Tiger did say something that made a lot of sense:

“It’s not about championships,” Woods said. “It’s how you live your life.”

Despite all the terrible actions Tiger committed, he seems to be heading in the right direction.

One news conference won’t take away months of questionable actions, lies and deceit, but it will give people a chance to see the progress one has made.

Tiger answered questions, while at the same time not answering some questions that were of the “tougher” nature.

Yet it was that statement above that made me believe Tiger will one day return to the old Tiger who hugged his father so passionately 13 years ago.

The same Tiger who broke down and cried on the last hole of the British Open in 2006, just a couple months after his father passed away. The same Tiger who inspired millions of kids to take up the game of golf, including me.

Remember, though, it’s not about winning championships, it’s how you live your life. Those are words to live by every day.

Because as Tiger found out, despite all the trophies, money and endorsements, it can all be wiped away with one mistake.

After nearly losing his career and possibly his family, Tiger finally figured out what is important in life. It’s a shame it took “transgressions” to figure it out.

Take it from Tiger. Realize what’s important in your life and do everything you can to cherish it, because the distractions will come and go, but the important things in your life will be there forever.