Why I cheered for Tiger Woods

CULTURE | 3 mins

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you heard about Tiger Woods over the weekend.

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His win at the Masters, his first major victory in 11 years, was everywhere. The golfer’s easy putt on the 18th green did so much more than earn him another green jacket—it cemented one of the greatest comebacks in sports history. News outlets and social media can’t stop clamoring about it. Once more, the world is abuzz in praise for Tiger.

A decade ago, it was a completely different story. Tiger’s life began a tailspin in 2009. Following a high profile divorce, publicized infidelity, and a humiliating DUI, the once-revered athlete became a national punching bag. Rooting against Tiger was in.

Over the weekend, all that condemnation seemed to fade. The world was engulfed in the redemptive power of the moment. We rooted for the underdog. We were on his side. We cried. (Okay, I cried. And I don’t at sports. Ever.)

The commentator in the video above said it best, “The return to glory.” The ball hits the cup and the crowd erupts. What we’re seeing in society’s response to the return of Woods is nothing new. We love a good comeback story. Dare I say, we’re addicted to the fall from grace and subsequent redemption—in our entertainment choices, our celebrity gossip, and from our star athletes. But the timing of this story, it’s near perfect.

For thousands of years, followers of Jesus have marked this week as a time to reflect on his unjust arrest, brutal torture, and devastating death. And then, on Easter Sunday, the surprise ending—his resurrection. I believe the story of Easter. And I believe the very reason Jesus died was so stories like Tiger’s can take place. Jesus conquered death so the stories of our lives—yours, mine, and Tiger’s—don’t have to stop at disgrace. There can be more beyond our brokenness and shame. It can, in fact, get better.

Just a few months ago, Tiger Woods was nothing more than the cautionary tale of a “what-if” and a “has-been.” But today, Woods’ story is proof that redemption is available. And I’m here to say, it’s not just available to professional athletes.

The two photos below—one of Woods and his father in 1997, the other of Woods and his son from this weekend—provide incredible bookends of one man’s fascinating career. But even more, they show the constant love of a father, through the good and the bad.

I believe you have a father waiting for you too—God himself. His arms are open wide, waiting to embrace, and redeem, anything you can throw at him. This Easter is your chance to meet him. If you dare to do that, I believe it just might be your Masters too.

Written by Grant Doepel on Apr 15, 2019