Par-adise lost: The complicated redemption of Tiger Woods

This morning, Tiger Woods broke through for his first Major win in a decade. However, if we’re going to praise him, I suggest we focus on the decade between his victories.



Seemingly, the world has reverted back to normal. Tiger Woods has returned to winning golf on a Sunday. This morning, he cemented his first major win in a decade, earning his fifth gaudily coloured jacket in a narrative befitting our golden idol of the early noughties.



There’s nothing more we love than a sporting comeback story, something we Australians hold extremely close to our national bosom. Tiger got knocked down numerous times, but as Rocky once said, it’s not about getting floored, it’s about how many times you get up from said flooring. Thus, Tiger is a hero renewed. He has emerged from Augusta a champion, ostensibly doubling as the moral Lourdes, clean and anew, for the people saw that he hit the ball and that thy strike was good.

However, the gap between his major wins is the telling point, and thusly, why we should approach today grasping a handful of salt. Everyone deserves a second chance is the moral rope we all hold onto when we feel we’ve fucked up too much. The words “Tiger Woods” and “scandal” have long powered the zeitgeist, which had its genesis back in 2009, with the allegations that he had an affair with a New York nightclub hostess emerging after a car crash, which gave us his televised apology in 2010, a DUI arrest and indeed, yet more repeated scandal of the same timbre: cheating, boozing, driving.

Fun trivia note, in December, his visage owned the front page of the New York Post for twenty consecutive days, beating the previous record held by 9/11.


The Daily News


For all of this, he fell – lead by his sponsors, with AT&T, Accenture, Gatorade and Gillette, with the golden naivete of John Q. Public following soon thereafter. As the ex-Chairman of Augusta National, Billy Payne said at the time, “our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we saw for our children.”

Which is certainly unfair, as we deified Tiger for his mastery of a game we hate and remaining unmarred by the vicissitudes of a life that constantly challenges us. Uncle Dan cheats on his wife, goes to strip clubs and was pinged with drink driving, but that’s just Uncle Dan. He’s not Tiger Woods. We lashed out at Tiger because we couldn’t not. We are beasts who operate on schadenfreude and unfair assumptions. If the latter is tested, we accede to the former. It seemed there were two Tigers all along. The perfectly formed one, and the one in the attic of his Floridian mansion growing ever uglier.

But the definition of Tiger in the collective eye has been difficult to gauge. Long has he been injured, writhing through scandal, or worst of all, shit at the activity we love him for; yet when he comes anywhere close to winning – hope again springs eternal. We line the tee or comment boxes, to share our obsolete personal anecdote, or our tired jokes about him focusing too much on a different type of hole. Personally, I have no stomach for redemption, as the incomplete narrative was too good. A demigod descends to earth, comes close to beating an impossible record, succumbs to primordial human tendencies, loses his chance at immortality on a strip club floor.


Standard internet fare – Author unknown


But, everyone loves a comeback. However, I suggest that today, if we choose to laud his victory, I suggest we do so alongside the knowledge we’ve gained over the last decade. We know that Tiger is perhaps a genius on the links and perhaps reprehensible off it. He’s good at golf, but bad at life. The writer Thomas Boswell, when discussing America’s other fallen cheating sporting idol, Barry Bonds, spoke of William Shakespeare. Boswell contended that being able to enjoy Bonds’ achievements whilst understanding that he ruined our perfect visage of him was fine, as “…negative capability was the ability to remain in tension, undecided, between opposing poles. Shakespeare had that negative capability — the ability to see everything and not jump to one side of the question — to a greater degree than any other artist. Now we live in a (sporting) world, where nothing is more valuable than negative capability.”






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