The East Lake Redemption
What does it take to overcome the past, achieve the impossible, and rediscover an ability you once thought was gone forever? Could you find the will to do any of those things in private, let alone in the world’s spotlight on the grandest stage?
Most of us could not. In fact, it would be easier to simply lay down, give up, and assume that our best days were behind us, packed away like old holiday decorations in an attic, collecting dust drummed up by recent struggles and mistakes. What was once joyous is now hurtful; a pleasant memory now reminders of how good life once was.
Yeah, that would be easier.
But there are some of us who know you gotta get busy living, or get busy dying.
We All Saw Proof
I never thought Tiger Woods would ever win again.
Like many others, I had created a nice little mental shelf on which my memories of Augusta, Pebble, Medinah, Bay Hill, Firestone, and 74 others would rest comfortably until I died. I would access that shelf from time to time — usually to engage in golf banter with my friends, or perhaps to share with my child one day — but that museum of the mind was a place where old things died.
However, on September 23, 2018, the museum received another memory and nobody shut the doors behind them. The shelf would have to be reconfigured.
Hope returned, and hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.
He Would Overcome
Picture the biggest and most embarrassing mistakes of your life, thrown out into the open for everyone in the world to see. Some would be trivial, others would be serious, but all would be your’s.
Imagine, too, that your body began to fail. A slight twinge in your back one morning would become multiple surgeries triggered by numbness, tingling, loss of function, and pain. Pain like you’ve never felt. Pain so strong that you couldn’t imagine feeling better again.
Imagine, too, that your resolve began to vanish, piece by piece, until you started to agree with the noise around you. You start to understand why doubt exists, and you begin to doubt yourself, too. In fact, you think about giving up entirely. You see no other option.
What would it take to push forward? Resilience? Stubbornness? Something else?
Salvation Lies Within
Not a day goes by that a man cannot feel regret. Not because of where we are today, but because we can’t go back and tell our younger self to act differently. That kid is long gone, and what we see in the mirror today is all that’s left.
But some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright, and their ability is just too strong. And when you see what he can still do? Well… you’d think it was a sin to have locked him up in the first place.
What Tiger Woods did at East Lake Golf Club wasn’t just special; it was unbelievable. It was the culmination of the courage and determination that helped him break out of his mental cage months before. It was the resolve of a man who crawled through 500 yards of shit and came out of the other end.
Walking up to the final green must have felt surreal, even to him, a man who once led a frenzied, hopeful crowd at the Western Open years prior.
In a way, this year’s crowd — which included his fellow competitors in street clothes — seemed to be leading him, supporting him, showing him we all remember.
We all remember.