Once upon a time, major golf tournaments were stalked by a fearsome Tiger. He prowled the fairways, landing impossible shots, and vanquished his competition with seeming ease and stunning regularity. Few could challenge his dominance.
That Tiger racked up eye-popping stats. He won more than 80 tour events, and 14 majors. He was ranked number one in the world for the most consecutive weeks in history, and for the greatest total number of weeks of any golfer ever.
His dominance transcended golf, and he ascended to great heights as the most popular athlete in the world. He racked up massive endorsement deals, and his handsome visage was used to sell everything from putters to shoes to Buicks.
But then, Tiger began to falter. His mighty body began to betray him, first his knees, then his back. He began a series of surgeries that aimed to repair the damage and defects, but seemed to do little to heal him and relieve his pain.
But perhaps the greatest threats to Tiger’s success were his own personal failings. He was young and entitled and foolish, and he betrayed his beautiful wife and the mother of his children with a series of dalliances with other women. His failure became tabloid fodder, and he became the punchline of many jokes.
His health crumbled, his marriage crumbled and his career crumbled. Hobbled by pain of every sort, his rankings plunged to 1199th in the world, and he failed to qualify for tournaments.
But as Tiger lay wounded and broken, something magical happened. His body began to heal, and he gradually regained the strength and skill of his youth. His spirit began to heal, and he established a strong, successful co-parenting relationship with his ex-wife, and he became a loving and attentive father.
Then on April 19, 2019, Tiger came roaring back. He won The Masters, his first major in more than a decade. He donned the green jacket once again, and reveled in the moment with his children.
It takes moxie to write a new chapter of your own life’s story, and Tiger Woods has it. Here’s how:
Moxie shines through in every season of life.
The world met Tiger Woods when he was but a tiny tot, driving golf balls under the watchful gaze of comedy legend and golf enthusiast Bob Hope on the Mike Douglas Show. By the age of five, young Woods was regularly winning golf tournaments.
Under the tutelage of his father Earl, Woods’ winning ways continued throughout his youth, and he became the youngest U.S. Junior Champion. What followed was years of being the “youngest” player to ever win this title, or reach that goal, or this or that.
Now at the ripe old age of 43, Woods is poised to become the oldest player to ever win this title, or reach that goal, or this or that. He’s now the second oldest player to win The Masters.
Our culture is youth-obsessed, and it’s heartening to watch an older player succeed. Tiger has broken so much new ground throughout his entire life and career. The prospect of watching him break new ground in maturity is exciting.
In the midst of all that, he endured the death of his father, the very public demise of his marriage, and dependence on painkillers.
Imagine if you had to step away from your career 24 times to address a major health concern. Imagine that you also had to pause to deal with grief, loss, major life changes and addiction. What kind of toll would that take in your performance? Would you consider a career change?
It would certainly cross my mind. I’d wonder if pursuing my dream was worth it. I’d perhaps question myself and my abilities.
Those questions might have crossed Woods’ mind, and his answer was “yes, it’s worth it, and I can do it.” That takes moxie.
Moxie values family.
Without question, Tiger’s father Earl was his son’s biggest champion and mentor. It was Earl, an outstanding athlete and leader in his own right, who cut down a putter for his son to play with as an infant. Earl was the first to recognize his son’s unusual intense interest and inherent talent for golf and nurture it.
And it was Earl who was waiting to embrace his son at the end of each major tournament win. Who can forget Tiger embracing his father Earl after winning his first Masters in 1997?
For Tiger’s children, seeing their father as a golf champion is a new experience. In their young lives, their father has mostly been struggling simply to get healthy. But in the decade that Tiger has spent rebuilding his health and career, he’s also been investing in his children. He’s had the opportunity to spend significant time with them just being their father.
Tiger seems to have learned from his earlier personal failures, and the experience has matured him into a loving and engaged father. His children will undoubtedly learn of those failures at some point, if they haven’t already. But that guy that made those mistakes will likely seem far removed from the man they know and love, and that’s what matters. It takes moxie to recover from your biggest mistakes, and Tiger has it.
If I ever have the chance to sit down with Tiger, what would you want me to ask?