Flashback to 22 years ago: I had no love for the sport of golf as a 14-year-old kid in my hometown of Belfair, Washington.
While my dad (an avid golf fan) and my childhood friend Josh Reid were glued to the TV watching a then 21-year-old Tiger Woods win his first-ever green jacket (winner of the Masters Tournament is bestowed with the green jacket honor), I was wishing that Major League Baseball or the National Basketball Association was on our archaic TV screen in the living room.
Nearly two decades later couldn’t have been more different for my mode of operation on the final day of the famed Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia.
April 14, 2019 will go down as one of the most important days in the history of professional golf. The sports world gathered around flat screen TVs across the nation to watch the final round of the Masters Tournament. Prior to Woods’ victory on April 14, the last major tournament Woods was victorious in occurred at the U.S. Open in June of 2008. On that Sunday afternoon, I just happened to be Reno, Nevada on vacation with friends Sarah Stockwell and Justin Pothier. We watched Woods’ epic victory at the Fitzgerald’s Casino in downtown Reno. The roar from the casino floor when Woods won was something I will never forget. When Tiger is in contention, the sports world stops to tune in. Not many people on planet earth have that kind of power, but Tiger has it in droves.
April 14, 2019 was no different. One of my dad’s best friends from childhood, Paul Miller, told me the night of Tiger’s victory that he rose at the crack of dawn ( 6 a.m. pacific standard time) so he wouldn’t miss a minute of the final day of the Masters.
He definitely wasn’t the only person who followed that mantra.
When Tiger’s tee shot on the 16th hole nearly rolled into the bottom of the cup for an ace, it just felt like the stars were aligning and history was imminent. What I will remember most about his achievement was the four-minute celebration of epic proportions after Tiger sank the final putt on the 18th hole. He embraced his caddie, his children, his mother, fellow golfers, friends and fans while making the triumphant walk toward clubhouse. It was the equivalent of a parade for someone who did what many thought was impossible.
Tiger is the second oldest golfer to ever win the Masters. He came back from a back injury that threatened to derail his career. It was one of the most inspiring moments I have ever seen in the history of professional sports. Everyone who saw it will remember where they were when it happened. Personally, I think its even bigger than Lebron James bringing the Cleveland Cavaliers an NBA championship in 2016.
While watching the celebration, I thought of my dad, who passed away in 2004, the entire time. I wish he would had been alive to witness what his favorite golfer accomplished. This time I wouldn’t have complained about having to watch it with him, I would had savored every second.