• Sumo

By Ken Reed

I’ve never been a Tiger Woods fan. I’m more of a Phil Mickelson guy.

Mickelson is one of the most fan-friendly athletes in recent times and seems to be a class act and great family man. Tiger has been none of those things. In fact, for a good portion of his life he’s been a jerk and treated people poorly, including family members and friends.

For most of Tiger’s career, while I’ve enjoyed watching his amazing skill on a golf course, I’ve rooted against him.

That is until this past year. I’ve rooted for him to become relevant again because sports in general, and golf in particular, is better when he’s a factor. His comeback from multiple back surgeries, knee surgeries, a host of public personal problems and old age (for a golfer) to win the PGA Tour Championship is simply an all-time great sports story; one of great perseverance and overcoming the odds.

Undoubtedly, Woods is one of the most charismatic athletes in history. But a year ago, from a golfing perspective, he was given up for dead. However, in 2018, he comes from out of nowhere to almost win a couple majors, and then finishes the year with his stunning Tour Championship victory (while also falling but a stroke short of winning the FedEx Cup). His round this past Sunday was sports theater at its finest.

I recently finished the biography “Tiger Woods” by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian. It’s a good read, in the mold of “Open,” Andre Agassi’s compelling autobiography. After reading the book, it’s clear that Woods’ unconventional upbringing helped make him both a golfing robot par excellence and seriously flawed human being.

All indications are that Tiger has worked hard the last couple years to become not only a great golfer again but a better person as well. While I suspect the game of life will remain a bigger challenge for Tiger Woods than the game of golf, here’s hoping his character and personal life has improved right along with his golf game.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans

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