15 April 2019: Tiger Woods is a five-time winner of the Masters and a 15-time major champion. More importantly, though, the role that means the most to him is being a doting father to his two children – 11-year-old Sam and Charlie, a year junior to his sister.
The two young children have grown through a period of deep reflection and metamorphosis for the legendary golfer. And paternal love has helped heal some of Woods’ deepest personal wounds, helping him refocus his energies into raising the two kids.
During the time when Tiger was enduring constant pain and limited mobility, golf was farthest on the serial winner’s mind. He expressed fond hope that he might recover just enough to “participate in their lives and play with them.”
But that was at a time, Woods was uncertain about the possibilities ahead of him. As he struggled to get through the mundane tasks of day to day life, Woods was left wondering whether he will ever be able to lead a fully normal life, let alone play professional golf. At one stage in 2017, he was barely able to swing enough to get the ball through sixty yards.
The success of the procedure which helped fuse his back and steady progress convinced Woods that he could compete again at the highest levels. It was then that he started to hope that his children could see him play golf at the highest level, beyond “merely YouTube videos.” That hope developed into a desire to see his children watch him win.
All those years ago in 1997 when Tiger won his epochal first Masters, his father was the first to receive him off the 18th green in a scene that is etched into Masters folklore. The tight embrace and moist eyes put the clock on hold as the two men celebrated the realisation of a dream as they met with the grand outcome of their shared effort over several years. Yesterday, Woods ran forward, extended his arms and grabbed his son Charlie as he roared for all the world to hear. Life came full circle on Sunday.
“I think that — I think — well, I hope, I hope they are proud of me. I hope they are proud of their dad,” he shared, as he opened up about the positive impact his comeback has had on his life as an athlete and a father.
“I was very fortunate to be given another chance to do something that I love. But more importantly, I’ve been able to participate in my kids’ lives in a way that I couldn’t for a number of years,” he said.
After the TOUR Championship last year when Tiger experienced what was commonplace during his heyday, hope returned again that he could one day go on and win more majors. But he had to do it once to begin that grand chase of Jack Nicklaus’s haul of 18.
“It means the world to me. Their love and their support, I just can’t say enough how much that meant to me throughout my struggles when I really just had a hard time moving around,” he told reporters at his winner’s press conference. “Just their infectiousness of happiness; you know, I was going through a tough time physically. There was a lot of times when I really couldn’t move and so that in itself is difficult.”
“But just to have them there, and then now to have them see their Pops win, just like my Pops saw me win here, it’s pretty special,” he added with a smile.
Sunday, Sam and Charlie were right where they needed to be as their father made the two putts, he needed to clinch the Masters for the fifth time in his career.
About 18 months ago, I asked Woods what he might hope for his children to see as he worked his way back into golf. “I hope that they can see what their dad could do on a golf course,” smiled Tiger. “I would like to try and show some of the best golf that gave such a wonderful career in the sport. I hope that they do not have to go back to YouTube to try and understand what made my career.”
Yesterday, soon after he won the Masters, I checked back with Tiger to see if his kids have a deeper understanding of his craft and how much that meant to him.
“I think the kids are starting to understand how much this game means to me, and some of the things I’ve done in the game; prior to comeback, they only knew that gold caused me a lot of pain. If I tried to swing a club I would be on the ground and I struggled for years, and that’s basically all they remember,” said Tiger.
“Luckily I’ve had the procedure where that’s no longer the case and I can do this again. So, you know, we’re creating new memories for them, and it’s just very special,” he added.
After the kind of golf Woods produced over the weekend in Augusta and the fact that he was in contention both at the Open and PGA Championships means the kids will get to see a lot more of the magical golf that makes their daddy one of the greatest golfers to have ever played the wonderful game.