Tiger Woods wins us over as he wins the Masters
Admit it. You wanted it. Not as much as he did, of course, but your desire was just as honest. Even if you once lost all respect for him, you wanted Tiger Woods to win the Masters. Again. Just one more time.
After all these years, after all those self-inflicted indignities and career-threatening surgeries, you wanted the most dominant athlete of our time to return to that rare air. You wanted him at age 43 to scramble into the wayback machine and take you with him.
And so he did. On Palm Sunday, there were olive branches everywhere.
Tiger didn't just win the Masters for the fifth time overall, for the first time in 14 years. He didn't just capture a major for the 15th time, for the first time in 11 years. The most dominant athlete of our time completed the greatest comeback in sports history, and it resonated on a deeper level for this reason:
He proved us wrong and made us like it. He had us cheering for him to finish it, which meant cheering against years of our own smug declarations that he was broken beyond repair in body and spirit.
Tiger Woods will never win another major. So many of us had said it, but when that prediction started to crumble like Francescohno Molinari on the back nine, we were thrilled. For 18 holes Sunday, we didn't care anymore about being right ourselves. We were more interested, invested even, in him being right again.
How's that for a hook? Tiger didn't just reduce the rest of the best golfers in the world to jelly by staying the course. By the time he arrived at Amen Corner, he'd turned doubters into true believers. That's an accomplishment more significant than doing something he'd never done, coming from behind on the final day to win a major. That's a milestone more challenging than doing something no one had ever done, adding another Masters title to his resume 14 years after the last one.
This moment was far from inevitable, which made it all the more enjoyable.
There was a time when Tiger was as unlikable as he was unbeatable as he grew from innocence to arrogance to dominance. He's still not exactly warm and Fuzzy, but if you weren't moved watching him hug his son at the same spot where his father had embraced him after his first Masters triumph 22 years before, you should get the paddles. Stat.
Tiger's failures and frailties had humbled and humanized him in a way no slick Nike spot could. Then came Sunday and the most popular victory of his 81-win PGA Tour career.
He won the Masters. He won us over. Not necessarily in that order.