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The Red Shirt

BY TINA COX

First off I need to set the record straight, I am not a golfer. I only tried once when I was 14 years old. I was coaxed into playing a round by my then boyfriend. As we approached the 3rd hole I slid out of my flip flop (yes, I know not the shoes of choice for the golf course) stepped on a wasp and spent the rest of the day limping through 9 holes watching my foot swell.

Over the years I have learned the basics of the sport. I know the rules, the terms and can talk golf with a group. I did not learn any of this by playing, I learned from watching Tiger.

Many years ago I was fascinated by the little boy with the golf club on a morning show. His overpowering father stood by his side as his toddler son would putt and drive a ball. The host of the show would ask simple questions and Tiger would answer in a language only young children could understand. The viewers were entertained. The little curly headed boy stole your heart with his smile. Little did we know we were watching the beginning of greatness. This youngster one day would change the world of golf and would be the subject of perhaps the greatest comeback of all time in sports.

The world watched on Sundays as young Tiger played his way into golf history. He seemed unstoppable. There was nothing better on a Sunday afternoon than watching Tiger, in his signature red shirt, hoist another trophy in the air.

Would he break Jack Nicholas’s record? Would anyone ever be this good at the game? No one ever imagined golf without Tiger. He made the world a fan of the sport.

Then his world collapsed. His marriage was in shambles, his contracts were cancelled and we all witnessed the fall of a great athlete. The combination of numerous surgeries, pulling out of tournaments and not making the cut at major tournaments had many doubting that we would ever witness Tiger walking on the 18th green again as the leader.

As long as Tiger is in contention the world is captivated.  Would it happen this year?  There were Sundays that it was close.  Some began to think it would be next year, maybe.

Then Sunday happened…

The world as Tiger captured his first tournament win in 5 years. Tiger, in his red shirt, was followed down the 18th fairway by thousands of fans who just wanted to be part of golf history. I can’t recall a time when the PGA opened the fairway to fans but they did on this day. Perhaps they knew it would be impossible to hold everyone back. Other players waited to congratulate him. This was Tiger’s day. The day we had only hoped would come.

Tiger is older and wiser. He has still has a certain swag to his persona but the tears in his eyes as he raised both arms on the 18th made us realize he is human.

Golf is better when Tiger is winning. Sundays are better when I can kick back on the couch and watch the “red shirt.”

follow me @tcox5470

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