It's Your Comeback Season
After 11 years of misses Tiger Woods comes out of his desert for what some are saying is the greatest comeback in sport history. Whether or not you are a follower of golf, this win should excite you. Here's why.
I have to first start by admitting I'm not much of a sports advocate and wouldn't have even known that Tiger Woods just won the Masters Championship had it not been for a couple of friends that mentioned to me his win. But after listening to a friend discuss his unexpected comeback I got excited, because I began to realize Tiger's win was more than just about a golf championship. It symbolized something much greater - the comeback that's in store for many people who have been in a desert for an extended season.
For starters, the fact that it had been 11 years since Tiger had won a majors holds significance. I have shared with numerous people the significance that the number 11 and the repeat of this number 111, and 1111 has held in my own life, and it wasn't until I repeatedly kept seeing this number that I began to realize that people around the world were experiencing the same thing.
One of the most important things that the number 11 signifies is transition, and not just any transition, but transitioning from a barren, dry place into abundance and the promises of God for your life through faith that you will be victorious if you do not give up.
In Deuteronomy 11:11 it states, "But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven." Hence the word crossing, signifying a transition in this scripture.
Deuteronomy 1:11 says, "May the Lord, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand times and bless you as He promised." The blessings and increase are going to be a thousand times greater than the seed you had planted or even hoped for.
Hebrews 11:1 tells us, "Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." This lets us know that in the natural it's not going to look like we're going to win. However, if we will stay faithful in the day to day things that at the time may seem insignificant, and appear as though they're not moving us any closer to our destination, eventually they'll bring about victory.
Hebrews 11:11 reminds us that the impossible is possible if we will only believe. "And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise."
On discussing his win, Tiger said, "I didn't do anything great, but I didn't do anything poor either. I was consistent." I think one of the biggest misconceptions people have about those who achieve great success that is visible to the world is that they had this magnificent moment of combustible energy that propelled them to victory.
However, if you talk to any successful entrepreneur, professional athlete or musician who's experienced stardom, they will tell you about the daily, countless hours of honing their craft. They are able to master the mundane, meaning they are able to discipline themselves to keep doing the unsexy, boring stuff they don't always enjoy doing without applause or recognition, because they recognize that sacrifice in due time comes with a reward.
It doesn't mean they don't experience obstacles, hardship and pain. They just learn how to push through it, unlike those who quit when it gets hard. Tiger's career certainly hasn't been without obstacles. To start with let's take a look at his physical ailments:
1994 - Tumor removal from his left knee
2002 - Cyst removal from his left knee, fluid drain around one of his ligaments
2006 - Injured shoulder muscle
2007 - Ruptured ACL in left knee
2008 - Arthroscopic knee surgery
2008 - ACL repair
2008-2009 - Torn right Achilles tendon
2010 - Inflamed facet join in his neck
April 2011- Left MCL sprain, strained left Achilles tendon
May 2011- Knee, Achilles act up
March 2012 - Injury to left Achilles tendon
March 2, 2014 - Back issues; Withdraws from the final round of The Honda Classic
March 18, 2014 - Back spasms; Announces he won't play Arnold Palmer invitational
April 1, 2014 - Back surgery for a pinched nerve; Announces he will miss the Masters
Sept. 16, 2015 - Back surgery
However, even with the series of injuries beginning in 1994, Tiger Woods seemed to be an unstoppable force and was on top of the world. In fact, it's been reported that he was the first sportsman to become a billionaire. But then in 2009 his world began falling apart. Around Thanksgiving of that year the breaking news came out about his wife, Elin, chasing him down the street with a golf club in hand.
The pictures of his wrecked SUV with the smashed windows went out around the world. Then the news begin to break about the affairs and sexual encounters Tiger had with countless women including a porn star, a waitress at Perkin's, and even a daughter of a neighbor. He instantaneously became the butt of a myriad of jokes and Saturday Night Live skits. Later, Tiger checked into a clinic for sex addiction and in 2010 his wife, and mother of his two young children, divorced him.
Then in 2017 he was arrested on DUI charges, in which the famous mug shot was taken and Tiger once again became another tagline and source of tabloid news. He later issued a statement in which he claimed it was not the use of alcohol, but instead overuse of medications that had caused his incoherency that night.
Either way, the man who appeared to have it all had now seemed to be crumbling in front of the world. He had lost his marriage, his reputation and his health. Tiger's back issues and pain had gotten so bad that he said, "I had to be helped out of bed". There were times he said where he would either fall to the floor or just stay in bed. The pain had gotten so intense that Tiger could barely walk.
"A year ago I didn't know if I would do this again," he said. "Coming back and playing golf was never in my thoughts. It's just how do I get away from the pain? How do I live life again? That was driving my life. I felt like I couldn't participate in my own life."
For those who have ever experienced chronic pain they can certainly relate to Tiger's desperation to escape his pain. However, not all pain has a physical source. Sometimes the greatest pain we experience can be emotional, but make no doubt it can be just as debilitating.
I don't claim to be an expert on Tiger's game or have any personal inside knowledge about Tiger's life, but as I was watching his interviews after his big win and some of his recent conversations, it appears that there has been a sort of transformation in his life that goes deeper than golf, and was the reason why I (someone who doesn't follow golf) was feeling extra excited about his win. For me it represented redemption; something we all could use.
I don't believe God punishes us for our mistakes or our sins, however, I do believe he allows things around us to fall away in order to help us regain our focus on the things that really matter. "My off time used to be spent playing golf," said Tiger. But he says that now his kids are "the most important thing" in his life. "Golf has taken a back seat to that."
One of the greatest scenes after his victory was watching Tiger and his proud son walking side by side amongst the cheering crowds. And maybe it's just me imposing my wishful thinking, but Tiger seemed to display a humility that usually only comes after life has put its foot on your neck.
In regard to his infidelity to his ex-wife, Tiger previously said, "My regret will last a lifetime." But regret alone doesn't change our behavior, a changed heart does. And I believe, or at least want to believe that Tiger's pain and losses has created a changed man; and his win after an 11-year streak of losses and 22 years since he won his first Masters Championship (hence the symbolism of 22 signifying double) represents redemption for not just him, but for a number of people who have felt they've been on a long journey full of pain and losses.
But when you're in the thick of the pain sometimes it's hard to see your way out of it. A few weeks before Christmas in 2015 Tiger couldn't see his way out of his long streak of losses that went far beyond just his golf game. "So where is the light at the end of the tunnel? I don't know," he said.
But now just three and a half years later Tiger has reclaimed the Masters Championship, the longest span ever for a golfer to win in between Masters. The last time he won was 14 years ago in 2005.
Just because you've been losing for a long time doesn't mean you're going to keep losing, but it can be difficult to overcome the demons in your mind that keep wanting to remind you of those losses in an attempt to get you to give up. Even Tiger said that winning the Masters was one of his hardest wins because of all his recent near victories.
Sometimes those near misses are more painful than the ones where you miss by a mile. The fact that you were so close you could almost taste it seems to taunt you with what you can see, but can't have. But, you have to believe that you can win. You have to keep doing the day to day activities that may at the time seem insignificant.
"I kept doing all the little things correctly," Tiger said. "Never give up. You always fight. Giving up is never in the equation."
Just remember, it's often darkest just before dawn, but if you stay consistent in the pursuit of your promises your greatest comeback is right around the corner.