Tiger tiger, burning bright!
Welcome back, Tiger. Thank you for coming back. We waited a long time for this.
Istarted playing golf around the age of eight, which would mean sometime around 199596. By 19992000, I knew this was the sport for me.
I turned professional in the latter half of 2007, a little less than a year after being part of the silver medalwinning team at the Asian Games. By then, I was sure all I wanted to do was to play professional golf.
So, the two most crucial periods in my life as far as golf is concerned were 19992001 and then 20052009. No prizes for guessing as to who was the dominant name in both periods.
Those days, much of our conversation on the practice green would be on imagining a “Putt for the Claret Jug” or a “Putt for the Green Jacket.” There was also hardly any other name that was uttered or whispered when someone asked who we — not just me but all others of my generation — wanted to be. Only Tiger Woods!
While trying to pen my thoughts on what Tiger has meant for the sport, which is now my life, I had this urge to find out how many times he had won in these two crucial periods of his golfing career. Guess what — the period between 1999 and 2002 produced 31 titles and the period between 2005 to 2009, 35. That is 66 titles — including his 14 Majors — out of the 91 titles he has won on globally recognised professional Tours in his career. He is said to have won more than 100 around the world.
So, it is hard to imagine my golf without thinking about Tiger Woods and the influence he has had on many players like me.
When Tiger went away from the game intermittently from late 2009 onwards, with personal troubles and injuries, both his critics and fans at various times kept debating and discussing whether or not he could come back. He would play and win something and just when it seemed “he was back,” he would be gone with some other injury. He had four surgeries.
He did win five times in 2013 and was the Player of the Year on the PGA Tour, but that was almost like a teaser. That was the last time he won till this year’s Tour Championship.
The toughest part of his life came after 2013. It included both injuries and personal problems. It surely was a dark period for a man who had virtually ruled the game.
It is impossible to imagine how he must have felt. Few, if any, had reached the levels he had in our sport. To fall from there, not just in golf but generally, was indeed tough.
It seemed the harder he tried,