It is, in many ways, hard for fans to warm up to Tiger Woods. He is so guarded, so unapproachable, and in many ways, so mechanical that I sometimes wonder if there’s any soul there.
And then he comes up with this:
When asked to identify the most important thing he had learned about golf in 2007, Woods paused for several seconds, murmured, “Great question,” and, in an even voice, opened up.
“Not necessarily golf-wise, but life-wise, I think I’ve grown quite a bit this year,” he said. “After my dad passed last year [Earl Woods died at age 74, after a long battle with cancer, on May 3, 2006], I played well, but I was still not really feeling all that great about life in general.”
As the audience leaned in, Woods didn’t pull back.
“I felt like I hadn’t really appreciated having Dad around. I didn’t talk to him as much as I should have. I didn’t call him, didn’t see him, wasn’t there enough. It was kind of in my mind through the entire last year and even the beginning of this year. That I didn’t do enough.”
As the words filled the big room, there was only stillness.
“But when I had [daughter] Sam this year, I wanted to take in every moment and appreciate everything. And I think that’s where my life has changed off the course. And no doubt I played better as a result. But it’s sad. One thing I regret is that it took the fact of my dad’s passing for me to appreciate how good my life was with him. I wish I had been able to realize how good it was when he was there.”
That’s exactly the same thing I’ve thought in the last couple of years after my own father’s passing. And, in talking to friends, it’s a familiar refrain.
So Tiger’s human, after all. And perhaps more vulnerable than most. When my father died, I got two days bereavement leave and then my administrators and students expected me to return to work and pick up as though nothing had happened. It’s the same for most of us. Tiger, on the other hand, found it necessary to take a couple of months off from work.
Perhaps his steely demeanor is there to mask a vulnerable interior. It was not until years later that anyone knew the personal price that Bobby Jones paid for his superhuman feats of golf. No stretch is required to imagine a similar agony for Tiger. He has said on several occasions that his time in professional golf will be shorter than we might think. Perhaps that’s why.
You can read the entire Jamie Diaz article here.