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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, June 15, 2024
Max Sternberg

Column: Like him or hate him, you have to respect Tiger Woods

Having already amassed three PGA Tour victories heading into the first major of the year, the Masters, Tiger Woods is seemingly back on top of the golf world. But even if Sunday comes and goes without Woods picking up his first major title since 2008, there is no doubt he has proven himself more than capable of continuing the push toward Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major titles.

Yet while I think it is indisputable Tiger’s push toward the Golden Bear has resumed after a three-year hiatus, many continue to root against this historic feat in light of Woods’ digressions away from the golf course.

I don’t want to sound as if I am defending the practice of having a reported 14 different mistresses during his six-year marriage to Elin Nordegren. The behavior Woods displayed was inexcusable and certainly unbecoming of the image that made him one of the most marketable individuals in world history prior to November 2009.

Having said that, his behavior was certainly not on the level of digressions seen elsewhere in the sports world—digressions that many times have been met with far less contempt than what Woods faced in the three-plus years since his affairs became public knowledge.

Even in the wake of his explosive divorce, Woods has continued to be a good father to his two children (at least according to comments attributed to Nordegren) and has made slow progress in his reported attempt to be more sociable both on and off the golf course. Sure, he slips with the occasional ‘F’-bomb caught on camera or the infrequent mini-tantrum, but consistent observers of the professional game cannot help but admit improvement has been made since the embarrassment of the 2009-’10 scandal.

In contrast to the responses we have seen from disgraced figures such as Lance Armstrong, Mike Rice and, sadly, a good portion of the Penn State community—a small but vocal minority in my opinion—Woods has attempted to learn from his mistakes and become a better person for them. The scrutiny that dominates Woods’ life makes the process of self-improvement slower and, in many ways, more difficult than normal. The improvement may not be as stark as many would like to see, but it is there. Unlike these other figures, you will not see Woods deny his culpability in the scandal and for that we should commend him.

While humility and attempts to improve may be reason enough not to root against Woods in his quest for five more major titles, the ability he has shown on a stage unparalleled in the sports world should have every golf fan out there rooting for a full-scale return to power.

From the dual in 2000 at Valhalla against no-name pro Bob May to the chip-in and subsequent playoff victory over Chris DiMarco in the 2005 Masters, it is Woods more than any other player in the last quarter century who has brought drama to the game. Woods can captivate when battling for victory or when, in the case of the 1997 Masters and 2000 U.S. Open, battling against history. Even on a torn ACL and broken leg, as was the case during the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, Woods can play the game of golf at a level no one else on earth can ever hope to reach.

That is why I will be rooting for Tiger this weekend at Augusta. I just want to be entertained. As much as I enjoyed watching Bubba Watson battle Louis Oosthuizen down the stretch last year, there is something about Woods’ ‘A’-game no other player can match. I miss that super-human performance and, whatever Woods needs to do in order to bring it back, I know I will be rooting for him every step of the way.

Let Max know if you will be pulling for Tiger this weekend by sending him an email at

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