My personal letter to Tiger Woods
The history of the game is important to me. When I was at the PGA Championship last August at Hazeltine in Minnesota my goal was to walk the entire round with you and l wanted to say I did this in my lifetime with one of the greatest golfers of all time.
I started this early morning at the practice tee and went to # 1, heard your name announced and began my walk with thousands. This was the first round and I was with you during all of your 67 strokes, due to crowds, I probably saw only 45 of them, but heard the noise reaction from the others. On the back nine there was one area where three holes came together and the crowds were huge. I stayed back and noticed that your group to avoid the crowds had a private walkway to the next tee.
Behind the ropes under a shade tree was a young child in a wheel chair, the temps on Thursday were well above average, it was hot. I noticed how you walked over to the family and stopped and talked and you gave your golf ball to the child. There were very few people who saw this and I know there were no media there and this was not a staged photo op. I could see this was a true act of unselfish kindness, I was moved.
Since Thanksgiving it has not been easy for you. You probably are living with shame and you have been humbled. I know it must hurt when you hear the leaders of our game make comments like when Tom Watson said “he needs to clean up his act and show some humility, he messed up and he knows he messed up” or Johnny Miller saying “his reputation is in tatters.” You know how Jesper Parnevik feels, the person who introduceed you to Elin. My hope is you save your marriage, Tom Watson did not save his first marriage to Linda. No one is perfect.
Your children will benefit so much from growing up with two loving parents. One thing did come out of this, you have saved marriages and made strong marriages stronger. You woke marriages up to what is important and that is family, they will be around when your golfing days are over. Surpassing Jack’s major championships is a great feat, seeing your grandchildren make a difference in society is the best victory of all, that is the real legacy.
Your redemption will not come from staying in your compound or some rehab clinic to improve your image with corporate America, it will be in getting back in the game, not just golf, but the game of life. Your rehab will truly begin when you tee it up in your first tournament, when you see fans are forgiving and pull to see people come through difficult times. When people see you going to tournaments you have never been to since you have turned professional will go a long way.
You have not been to New Orleans and I can tell you when you leave New Orleans you will leave a different person. We have felt and lived through hardship and you will see firsthand how we live for hope and dreams. In the words of James Taylor “We have seen Fire and Rain.” Behind the next corner could be your personal Super Bowl, we have seen ours since our tough times.
So remember there is that child out there waiting behind the ropes, maybe like in Minnesota. You will never be able to share this until you tee it up. I hope to see you at Augusta and remember, time waits for no one. Carpe Diem – Sieze the Day. The day awaits you Tiger.
Jimmy Headrick, PGA
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