Me, I was at a theme park with my family when the text from my editor hit my phone, something about Tiger being in a car accident and possibly hurt badly. Remember? That's what we thought for a moment, that he was in the hospital and possibly suffering from life-threatening injuries. So, for my part, while my kids played in a Christmas wonderland, I wrote the first draft of the first Tiger Woods/car accident article on my cell phone.
It would not, to understate it, be the last time I wrote about what happened that night to Tiger Woods, nor the last time you read about it.
As you'll recall, this was just days after the "news" broke that Woods had been carrying on with a mistress in Australia. The National Enquirer broke the story, and for a good laugh (and a look at what we all thought of Tiger back then), check out the comments below the article that we wrote the day that came out.
You know what happened next: speculation upon speculation, terrified voicemails, Woods in hiding, a decade's worth of golf-pun jokes, Woods in a sex-rehab clinic, the world learning about Perkins, Woods finally emerging to apologize, and finally Woods returning to the course at Augusta. (You can check the complete timeline, from Escalade to divorce, right here.)
And now, at long last, we're outside the blast radius of Tiger/cheater jokes. The guy's been on his own for nearly two years, and his business remains his business. The questions now surround his golf game ... which most of us can agree is where the focus ought to be.
Woods has not won since that infamous trip to Australia in 2009, though he's come close: a playoff loss in the Chevron World Classic last year, a clubhouse lead late in the Australian Open this year. His form has vacillated between field-destroying and self-destructive. He appears to be getting his swing ironed out; he's changed both swing coach and caddy.
Can he ever dominate the game of golf again?
Age and circumstance say no, but there's always that chance that he'll find that extra gear, that he'll tap into that element of his soul and conscience that let him absolutely destroy the game for the last 15 years.
And us? What did we all learn from this? Well, as the disbelieving comments from that Enquirer article showed, we all had Woods on a pedestal perhaps unmatched in sports. We're two years older now, much wiser, far more cynical. (Plus carrying a whole lot more joke material.)
What happened on Thanksgiving 2009 changed Woods' life, and that of the game of golf, forever and for good. What would have happened had matters never broken the way they did? Would he have won several more majors by now, or was this breakdown, both of body and marriage, inevitable? What do you think?
- Tiger Woods