The inglorious United States Postal Service must have lost the party invitation you sent me to celebrate the big fore-tee. They mess up ALL the time during the mad holiday season, I swear. Why must you be born between Christmas and New Year’s Day? Moving on…
I have a little confession. People in my circle know that I refer to you as My Tiger. I get that it sounds possessive, but it’s simply a term of endearment. Yes, I’ve stalked you several times at Torrey Pines…most notably at the 2008 US Open where you won your last major despite a broken leg. I braved a solo road trip to Arizona in 2009 to greet you back after knee surgery at the WGC-Accenture Match Play at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain. In 2010, I went to see you at the US Open in Pebble Beach. I watched one of your practice rounds at the 2012 Masters and was completely spell-bound and awe-struck by just being there. No wonder you love that place so much, it’s truly majestic! Later that same year, I went to see you at the Ryder Cup in Chicago at the Medinah Country Club and ended up with heart break when our US team squandered a comfortable lead on the final day. It’s been a while since I’ve gone to see you in competition, but it doesn’t mean I’ve stopped rooting for you.
As a devoted fan, I wanted to take this opportunity to sincerely THANK YOU, Tiger. I will always respect and admire you for what you’ve accomplished and the immeasurable contributions you’ve made in and around the game of golf…all over the world. I would also credit (and sometimes curse) you for drawing me into the game.
The on-going debate on whether you’ll go down in history as the greatest golfer of all time is largely irrelevant to me. Seriously. It’s fodder for the media. I already feel gifted by your unyielding passion for golf and all the sacrifices you’ve made (and continue to make) to be the best you in spite of all the challenges and setbacks…they’re there to build character. I believe your story is still being written and the best ones will come from the many you’ve already inspired.
Since I didn’t go to your party, I wanted to honor your birthday by walking on at Dad Miller – your home course as a freshman at Western High School and where you later docked the Tiger Woods Learning Center – but I heard it was jammed packed out there so I shied away from the crowd. Instead, I played at Mile Square Classic…wearing your signature black and red. There was definitely something special in the air. On the first hole, I split the center of the fairway, flushed my approach right over the pin, and gently dropped a 20-footer for a birdie…an accomplishment I rarely achieve on this particular hole. Beyond having a decent round of golf, I made some interesting connections on the course today. It’s humbling to hear the game whisper to me…to come closer, dig deeper, reach further, and strive to thrive against all odds.
Here’s looking ahead and wishing you another 40 years of awesomeness. Cheers to your physical, mental, and spiritual health and happiness. Cheers to being one of the greatest ambassadors to the game of golf…to being a wonderful father and son…and to remembering how to win again. I suppose your memory had a lapse. Perhaps you messed up on the birthday party invitation and addressed it to someone else instead!