It was the image that captured the world. Father and son hugging tightly, neck-to-neck, in a celebratory hug that melted hearts across the world.
Tiger Woods, 43, hugged his little boy, 10-year-old Charlie, after Woods had won his first Masters after more than a decade. It was his 15th Masters.
It was at the same spot that Woods had hugged his father Earl 22 years ago when, in 1997, Woods won his first Masters at 21.
History was repeating itself, only this time, another historic moment was underway. The Tiger had roared again. After 11 years of scandals, failure, health problems, a failed marriage, public ridicule, arrests and having the public write him off, Woods was back.
The legendary icon we all thought had disappeared into an abyss of oblivion had proved everyone wrong. It was the greatest, most unlikely and most improbable comeback in the history of comebacks.
The past 10 years have been the darkest for Woods, a legend whose downward spiral was witnessed and captured in the full glare of the world. In 2009, it emerged that Woods was having several extramarital affairs, thrusting him into the limelight and making him an object of public ridicule.
He battled several health problems, including a back injury that saw him undergo four surgeries.
It was believed that Woods would never play again. In a 2015 interview with The Guardian newspaper, Woods was heartbroken; “That’s the hardest part for me. There is nothing I can look forward to, nothing I can build towards. Where is the light at the end of the tunnel? I don’t know.”
In 2017, Woods was found asleep at the wheel of his car and police arrested him for driving under the influence. The mugshot was a pathetic sight to behold; Woods looked like a former shadow of himself. Tired, haggard and about to give up on life.
Yet, he did not give up.
He rose again. He spent days in the gym trying to get back in shape and walked tens of kilometres to strengthen his back.
Even when the rest of the world had written him off and his friends such as Michael Jordan believed he would never return physically again, Woods bounced back.
When everyone failed to believe in Woods he believed in himself. He worked with the singular goal and belief that he would one day come back and win again.
That he would be at the top of his game one day. And so he kept going. In those dark moments when the world was not watching, when he was alone in the gym or out for a walk, only one thing kept him going: hope. And that’s what we can learn from Woods. I am talking to people who have stared failure in the eye like him.
People who have hit rock bottom, those who cannot go lower than where they are currently.
People who have lost everything. People who have been to hell and back. You who has been written off — like Woods was — and nobody, except you, believes in you. Life is difficult, but with the never-say-die spirit of Tiger Woods, a tonne of hard work, faith and self-belief, you will rise again. When you have lost everything and when you feel like you have nothing to look forward to — like Woods felt — it is exactly when you should not give up but encourage yourself, pick yourself up and go back to the ring.
Woods waited 11 years to win again. That is a darn long time. He teaches that a comeback takes time. But what matters is not that moment of the comeback that we saw a few days ago, but that decade of sacrifice, intense training and a never-give-up attitude.
For a man who went to rehab for sex addiction and addiction to prescription drugs, we learn that truly, there is no challenge you cannot come out of, if you are focused on your healing and on bouncing back.
So, to everyone who is in the trenches right now, anyone going through their decade in the woods, hang in there.
Life’s tough, but you’re tougher. This too will pass, and this I know for sure; that just like Tiger Woods, your great comeback awaits you!