Two and a half years ago the world witnessed an athletic train wreck. One of the most recognizable athletes in our lifetime crashed and burned before our very eyes. Personally, professionally, and as a man.
The events following Tiger Woods' 2009 car accident are well-documented. Torrid affairs, stories of sexual addiction, a family in tatters; the world's best golfer without his major sponsors and unable to recapture the swing that made him a star.
Commentators and sports pundits jumped up and down on the grave of Tiger Woods' golf career, some reveling in the fact that someone so seemingly pristine and perfect was actually deeply flawed at his core.
I'm not sure those same "experts" were feeling so celebratory Sunday.
After years, finally, Woods did something that used to seem so commonplace.
Now it wasn't the world's biggest golf tournament to be sure. It wasn't a Major or a Ryder Cup. That, however, didn't change a thing for those of us who believe in redemption.
As Woods walked up the 18th fairway to the green at Bay Hill, you could spot a look in his eyes that indicated he was re-focused. His chest puffed out, an extra amount of determination in his stride.
The fans lined the fairway 10-deep to catch a glimpse of the man that made an old habit of walking to 18 with the lead on Sundays.
They weren't alone. The ratings were huge for NBC as well, as 4.8 per cent of households tuned in to see something that was once familiar.
They cheered. And when he putted to close out the victory, they roared, indicating they had forgiven and that it was time to start a new chapter.
The problem is, however, that with Tiger's new chapter, so too comes a new book. Tiger's former swing coach Hank Haney released his new tell-all about the golfer yesterday. In it, Haney describes Woods as cheap, petty, ruthless, and selfish.
Haney told CTV's Canada AM this week that Tiger is "so focused on what he is doing, trying to compete as a golfer, that he is self-centered" and that "his competitiveness is tied to his overall personality."
He claims that Tiger is obsessed with -- wait for it -- golf. That's right! Tiger has a golf obsession! Shocking stuff, huh?
Haney tells stories of how Tiger spends more than four hours looking at his swing in a mirror; that he replies to the doctor who has told him he has a broken leg and his anterior cruciate ligament is about to snap: "Just patch me up doc. I've got a U.S. Open to win. I can deal with the pain."
If you have followed Tiger's career, none of this should be surprising. He is a perfectionist, albeit not when it comes to mating and relating to others. But he is damn sure an unyielding stickler when it comes to his craft.
Many have described Woods' victory on Sunday, the first in 923 days and 27 tour events, as the beginning of phase two of his career.
Sure this is just one tournament. And with some of the nagging injuries Tiger has suffered, the end to his story may be closer than I'd like to believe it will be.
That being said, the Masters is two weeks away. In every year that Tiger Woods has won the Masters, he has headed to Augusta with a PGA Tour victory under his belt. Now that he has one, could the matching green jacket be far behind?
I think he's out of the proverbial woods, back on the prowl, and redemption is only a few strokes away.
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