This week on April 24, Tiger Woods, 43, made history. He won another Masters Tournament — the 15th major one of his entire career — but notably, his first major win in more than a decade. It was a decade filled with controversy and setbacks — professional and personal.
Woods, the son of Thai mother and a Black father, was a golf prodigy who started playing the sport at age 2. He went pro at the age of 20 and was ranked number one in the world rankings within a year. From then on, he was unstoppable. He was the top ranked golfer in the world for almost a decade straight, from 1999 to 2010.
In 2010, however, Woods’ personal life took center stage and eclipsed his professional accomplishments.
Media outlets heavily reported on his extramarital affairs, which led to his divorce from Elin Nordegren and also the loss of lucrative endorsements and the loss of esteem in the eyes of the American public. He fell from number 1 to number 58.
After that, he suffered injuries that led to four back surgeries and four knee surgeries. He barely played in recent years, completing only one tournament between August 2015 and January 2018. He was arrested on May 29, 2017, near his home for driving under the influence.
So to come back from that and win the Masters — that’s a feat. And honestly, not a lot of people, especially those of us who are more casual observers of golf than ardent fans, were betting on him to make this kind of comeback.
It’s remarkable that, with so many setbacks, upsets, and personal turbulence, Woods did the work he needed to do to get himself right again.
There are many lessons to be gleaned here. First of all, Asians are competing in the Masters in record numbers. Asian women have also been dominating the LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association). This rise in athletes signals a shift in the composition of the world’s economies. The world is no longer dominated by Western economies. With high GDP growth raise in China, India, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, golf — a game previously exclusive, expensive, and white — is now more accessible to these countries than ever before.
The high number of Asian golfers reflect a robust, growing Asian middle class — a population that is young, upwardly mobile, vocal, and ready to change the world.
On a quieter scale, Woods’ win also reflects the kind of resilience we rarely see. We see a lot of people, people of color especially, succumb to their demons and then fall into a hole that they never end up climbing out of.
But Woods climbed. And not only did he come back, he actually won it all. This is quite a redemption story!
And, if nothing else, what we should take away from him is that life is long and no matter how devastating a mistake or setback may seem, it’s possible to overcome through resilience and hard work.