Two days before the highly anticipated EA Sports video game, Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’13 is to be released, the man whose namesake drives sales of the popular series did something he hadn’t done in over 2 and a half years, WIN an official golf tournament. On Sunday afternoon at Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando, Florida arguably the best golfer of all time ended the longest streak of his career after 923 winless days by winning the 2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational Sponsored by MasterCard. As Tiger’s approach landed on the 18th green he turned to caddy Joe LaCava, his caddy of the last five months, and let out a “F— Yeah”, symbolizing that in his mind he was back to top form, at least for the moment. And after 923 days of losing it probably felt pretty damn nice to be on top of the leaderboard and take home the $1,080,000 winner’s share of the tournaments $6 million dollar purse.
In between tournament victories Tiger Woods went through a whole lot of drama and his personal life has been dissected from every angle. It all comes with the territory of being rich and famous, but in my opinion the scrutiny into every detail of Tiger’s life was just too much. Everyone remembers the Thanksgiving 2009 one car accident where he ran from his house and his wife at the time, Elin Nordegren, after she reportedly found out he was cheating on her. Tiger did later admit to his infidelity and took an indefinite leave of absence from December 2009 to April 2010 to try to restore his marriage but as that failed so did his confidence.
Tiger’s drama did not lie only with the highly publicized infidelities with his wife though. In summer 2011, Tiger Woods fired his long time caddy Steve Williams in a decision that was definitely not as mutual as Tiger would have led you to believe. Stevie Williams seemed absolutely stunned that he was being let go and in an interview with Television New Zealand at the time Williams said “You could say I’ve wasted the last two years of my life. I’ve stuck with Tiger and been incredibly loyal. I’m not disappointed I’ve been fired – that’s part of the job – but the timing is extraordinary”. Even months later Steve Williams was not done berating Tiger for his decision and at a 2011 Caddies Awards dinner Williams remarked “It was my aim to shove it up that black arsehole” in a statement that reeks of resentment and borders on racism.
Even more recently, Tiger has had some drama with his ex-swing coach and one of the best trainers in the business, Hank Haney, when he co-authored a new book entitled “The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods” in a book that is due to hit bookshelves tomorrow. The book is reportedly a first person account on his life with Tiger Woods who he coached from 2004-2010, and though the two men never sat down and had an in-depth personal heart to heart, a key portion of the book relates to a knee injury that Tiger suffered in 2007. The book mentions that Tiger Woods trained like a Navy Seal, as his father Earl Woods was an extremely strict man and a former US Army Lieutenant Colonel, and alleges that Tiger injured his knee in part because he ran long distances in heavy combat boots.
In part due to the injuries and the shaken confidence related to his suddenly ended marriage, Tiger did not have the results that he wanted on the golf course until the 2011 Chevron World Challenge, an unsanctioned 18 player tournament that Tiger won, ending his streak of 107 weeks without any win on the golf course. Tiger would not win again until yesterday’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, officially ending that winless streak in a true PGA sanctioned tournament by defeating Graeme McDowell and the rest of the field with the 70 he shot on Sunday and his 13 under par 275 score for the weekend. Moments after the match Tiger told reporters “it was just pure joy” to be back on top, and he is hoping to extend play this well in two weeks when the “Super Bowl of Golf” as my father put it, The Masters Championship returns to Augusta National Golf Club April 2nd-April 8th.