Christa Ackroyd: Why Tiger Woods is the only person who saved Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods reacts as he wins the Masters golf tournament . (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Tiger Woods reacts as he wins the Masters golf tournament . (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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It is of course just about the most ridiculous sport ever invented. Who on earth decided it was a great idea to trudge around wide open spaces lugging a huge bag of long metal sticks with which to hit a tiny ball into a tiny hole somewhere almost out of sight? Why not just go for a walk?

I have plenty of issues with golf. Historically it was totally elitist with well heeled members forming judgemental committees with the power to decide who was, and more importantly who wasn’t, allowed to join their little clique.

It has definitely been sexist. I well remember arguing with one local golf captain about men only bars and different tea off times for women.

“So can I play on a Saturday morning or in fact wherever I want?” I asked this poor man, who had absolutely no idea what he was about to unleash, bless him, as he tried to tempt me to join.

“Well er, no not exactly,” was his answer. “There are certain times for the men, Christa, because they have to work. And you wouldn’t want to hold up the game would you?” He failed to read my expression. “But,” he gamely continued. “You ladies do get a much reduced fee and a seperate room away from the men. Look at the lovely room we have made for you lovely ladies. It even has a little bell for you to summon the barman.”

How I managed to show some restraint I do not know. Probably because I almost felt sorry for him. “But what if I actually want to join my husband, play when I want and order my own drinks,” I responded. “What if I payed the same fees as the men ? It’s just that I work at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.” I thought he was going to pass out at the audacity of it all. I didn’t join.

Now I have to say that was more than a decade ago and many golf clubs have been forced to come kicking and screaming into the 21st Century largely because of economics. Come to think of it you don’t often see many golfers dressed in banana yellow or tangerine orange these days, or head to toe in argyle and tartan, when your only connection with Scotland was a holiday in 1967. It’s much more sensible.

So having said all that it must follow I obviously have strong opinions, given his history, about the adulation heaped upon Tiger Woods for what is being described as the greatest sporting comeback in history in winning his first major, The Masters, after a decade of personal and physical traumas which saw him slip to below a thousand in the world rankings. Only I don’t. Like so many non golfers I was glued to the TV for hour upon hour. It was the sport’s greatest recruitment drive. I wanted him to win and I was moved to tears as he hugged him young son Charlie when the final ball went in. Because it was as gripping and as unlikely an outcome as any episode of Line of Duty. It was the best telly of the year. And if his ex wife remains friends with him, describing him as a great father and a good friend, what on earth has his past got anything to do with any of us? Only one thing did strike me as he hugged his new girlfriend and walked to the club house to claim the famous green jacket. Two years ago when he could barely walk and was forced to undergo back surgery to fuse two vertebrae, Erica Herman was being branded a gold digger. Now within an hour of his victory she was being described in the press as the woman who had saved Tiger. What a fickle lot we are.

There is only one person who saved Tiger Woods. And that is Tiger Woods. Life is nothing if not a lesson to be learned as we live it. For most of us that journey is out of the spotlight. For Tiger Woods how he ever had the mental capacity to even attempt to come back is his greatest achievement. He certainly didn’t need the money. But he did it because life has changed him, but not his ambition. And clearly not his talent. Most of us would have hidden under the nearest rock.

Tiger Woods is a very different man today. He is warmer, more humble, his joy more unbridled, his smiles more genuine. Because he has been given a second chance. And more importantly he chose to take it. He hadn’t take anyone’s life. Instead he reevaluated his own and is all the better person, even player, for it.

I still don’t get golf. That doesn’t matter. What we witnessed was pure theatre. And proof that no matter what happens you can always, as the song goes, pick yourself up, dust yourself down. And start all over again.