Editorial: The Masters redemption of Tiger Woods
A natural impulse in the wake of Tiger Woods' historic victory at the Masters Tournament Sunday is to hail him as a unique human specimen. To reflect on how his accomplishment separates him from the rest of the pack among professional golfers. Among professional athletes. Among all of us mere mortals.
That his story is unique, few could deny.
Yet, we should beware following that line of thinking too far. For what is so inspirational about his comeback is not what comes from being superhuman. It's what comes from being human, and that is so much more important.
One of the great lessons of Woods' accomplishment is the affirmation that there is nothing "mere" about being mortal. To be sure, Woods has rare gifts and an extraordinary level of determination that enabled him long ago to become a legend in his sport. He is playing out his life on a stage few people can imagine, let alone hope, or perhaps even want, to experience. Yet he has shown what any of us can accomplish, and what any of us can overcome, whatever the size of the stage where we play out our own lives.
Woods' human frailties have been amply demonstrated over the past decade and a half -- and those too on an expansive and unimaginable stage. The sensational sex scandal. The DUI arrest. The struggles with dependence on pain killers. The fall from the pinnacle of public acclaim to the depths of public derision. And, then, through mental distraction and physical deterioration, the Samsonesque loss of his mystical hold on the activity that had been the foundation for all his success.
It is natural to wonder how many of us could come back from so great a period of self-imposed misfortune. What Woods has shown, what is inspirational about his Masters win, is that all of us can.
That must be one reason so many of us have sympathized with his struggles and been captivated by his pursuit of new glory. That must be a force stirring the thousands of voices that cheered "Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!" as he strode from the 18th green at Augusta National and swept his young son into his arms.
Of course, few of us will leave our jobs today in the embrace of our children with the ring of our name echoing in our ears. But whatever our field, we all appreciate the drive to achieve. We all applaud the love of family. We all understand mistakes and sins and hardships and hopes, the appeal of glory and the need for redemption.
On Sunday, we got to see the exhilarating reward enduring all this can have. It came in the form of what appeared to be a superhuman feat. It came with a profound reminder of what it means to be human.
It was a moment to cheer, and what a wonder to consider that there may be more such yet to follow.