Tiger, Tiger Woods Y’all

By Eric Williams

All I could think of after Tiger Wood’s recent British Open victory was the scene from the Chris Rock comedy, ‘Down to Earth’ where Rock enters a room dressed in a golf outfit sliding across a marble floor with golf cleats on, proclaiming, “Tiger, Tiger Woods Y’all.”

I realize that, over the course of his magnificent career, the novelty and intrigue of Tiger Woods being a black golfer has worn off for most people by now. However, I want to reinforce the fact that not only is Woods the greatest black golfer of all-time, but one of the greatest – and most likeable – athletes of any era – and, will soon enough, be considered the greatest golfer of all-time, no matter what color.

Simply put, when Woods is on top of his game, there isn’t another golfer on the planet that even comes close to matching his greatness. If anyone thinks that the so-called “gap” that formerly existed between Woods and the rest of the PGA Tour playing field has closed any – think again.

The only time others can even come close to matching Woods is when Tiger isn’t playing like himself – an attribute that I don’t think anyone will be seeing any time soon.

After Woods’ recent win at the British Open (his third), Woods has seemingly regained his confidence – and masterful strokes – all after losing his father and best friend, Earl Woods – who passed away earlier this year after a lengthy illness.
Woods’ third Claret Jug victory and 11th overall major, came as a surprise to many of Woods’ critics who questioned whether he could regain his focus and form after taking nearly nine weeks off and following his two rounds of 76-76 at the U.S. Open, which caused him to miss the cut for the first time in a major in his career.

Woods however, knew something that no one else did however – that his father, although not with him physically, was with him in spirit – almost willing his son along the links at Hoylake.
After hitting off the tee at the 18th hole on the final day, Woods unleashed a torrent of emotions – a rarity for the generally super-composed Woods.

“All these emotions just came pouring out and all the things that my father has meant to me and the game of golf, I just wish he could have seen it one more time. I guess they were locked up inside me. I was pretty bummed out after not winning the Masters, because I knew that was the last major he was ever going to see,” Woods said. “After the last putt, I realized my dad’s never going to see this again and I wish he could have seen this one last time. He was out there today keeping me calm. I had a very calm feeling the entire week, especially today.”

Woods’ caddie and confidante, Steve Williams, confirmed the fact that Woods was on an unstoppable mission – one that he knew would end in victory.

“I saw this coming last night,” Williams said. “He played at the Masters, and it was the only time I saw him try too hard. Today, there was calmness about him. No doubt he wanted to win this for him (Earl).”
Woods also cemented his reputation as the best finisher in all of professional sports, by keeping all challengers, particularly, Chris DiMarco, his closest competitor.

“He’s got an uncanny ability, when somebody gets close to him, to just turn it up another level,” DiMarco said.
When questioned about what his father would have thought of his latest major win, Woods simply said, “He would have been very proud. He was always on my case about thinking my way around the golf course and not letting emotions get the better of you.”

Personally, all I can say is ‘Thank You to Earl Woods. Not only were you an excellent golf instructor to your son, now the world’s greatest golfer, but also, more importantly, you were an exemplary role model not only for Tiger, but for a legion of other black men who may or may not follow in the footsteps of your son one day, but will be better persons and fathers because of your efforts.

In closing, I have to acknowledge that, were it not for the immense contributions of Earl Woods in his son’s life, an entire generation of future golfers, both of color and not, may never have been spawned – and for that, I thank you Earl. Rest in peace.

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