Tiger Woods: The Still the Greatest on the Golf CourseThe minds of sports fans as well as the general public have been fogged with more recent memories of Tiger Woods. The golf legend is now a late night talk show monologue joke, a great, fallen from grace that now lives in the John Daly territory of bad off-the-course life decisions.It is easy to forget that the 14-time major championship winner is just 41-years old, and he has spent the last 20 years of his life winning golf tournaments all over the world.It feels like Woods should be older, he turned professional in 1996, and won his first major just eight months later. He has been synonymous with Nike, and thanks to his PGA Tour wins and endorsement deals, Woods is worth $740 million.A Decade in DeclineThe last nine years of Woods’ golf career hasn’t been as agreeable as his first decade as a pro. The former Stanford golf player hasn’t won a major golf tournament since he took top prize at the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines. A year later, Woods’ car crash in Florida ignited the very public marital problems that took him from being the greatest individual sports athlete in the United States to the same level as Lance Armstrong, Derek Jeter and Michael Vick.Woods has been in the American sports limelight since he was two-years old, as a guest on the Mike Douglas Show, he wowed Bob Hope with his golf skills. He has grown up with an incredible amount of expectations as every eye in the media has watched him develop.Woods’ May 29th arrest for failing several sobriety tests after being found asleep at the wheel of his automobile, is the star’s latest headline grabbing incident. However, the golf great had a 0.00 blood alcohol level, and he attributed his nap while driving to painkillers.With nearly a decade of negative headlines hitting the press, it is easy for people to forget the greatness that was Tiger Woods every time he stepped on to a golf course. He is a man that turned a generation of young athletes on to the sport, and a man that took golf more into the mainstream as its face for Nike, Gatorade and Gillette. It is easy to forget just how much Woods has done for the sport of golf and the great moments he has had when on top of the world.Great Golf MomentsWoods’ off the course moments have been clouded by personal problems, and many may forget the greatness that he exuded on golf courses around the globe not too long ago. Woods turned professional in August 1996, and less than two months later, he won his first golf tournament. Trailing Davis Love III going into the final round at the Las Vegas Invitational, Woods beat the veteran golfer in a playoff; earning him a $297,000 payday. It was the first of many.In April 1997, Woods won his first major tournament as he blew through the field at the Masters in Augusta. His win at the famous tournament was historic as Woods stormed his way to the title with a 12-shot victory. Two months later, Woods became the No. 1 ranked golfer in the world for the first time, a title he would hold for much of his early career.Woods captured a PGA Tour Grand Slam in 2000, just four years into his golf career. His win at the Open Championship made him the youngest PGA player to complete the feat. The 1999 to 2002 seasons were his best in terms of major tournaments successes. In that time, Woods won three Masters titles, two US Open tournaments, one Open Championship and a PGA Championship. During his reign of terror on the rest of the golf world, Woods collected four straight PGA major tournaments which started with the 2000 US Open competition and ended in Augusta at the 2001 Masters. Now known as the Tiger Slam, Woods became only the third player to capture four major tournaments consecutively; and the first since Bobby Jones in 1930.The 2013 golf season saw Woods win his most tournaments since 2009 as he took top prize at five events. That same year, the 11-times PGA Player of the Year won his 79th PGA competition, making him second on the all-time wins list. He is currently three wins from tying wins leader Sam Snead.Woods’ LegacyUnfortunately, Tiger Woods’ legacy may now reflect the man off the golf course rather than the great player on it. Woods will go down as the greatest golfer in the minds of many who follow the sport. His list of accomplishments in the PGA’s record books will recognize his greatness as well. But due to his indiscretions away from golf courses and country clubs, some will remember him for his personal life rather than his major tournament victories.
We will do our best to understand the behavior and incredible amount of pressure all of us have all put on Tiger Woods as a child, his family and his life and what this young man did for the game of golf, and sports in general. Let’s not beat him to the grown, rather, support in all that we can because this is the young man who influenced so many of us and our children. Let’s show some good examples of how to behave when the people we’ve looked up to for so long, have fallen and need us. I am not very impressed how some media are just looking for a news story right after they have shaken his hand in congratulations for his wins then bashed him for taking a fall after all the pressure we’ve put on him.