One thing that hasn’t gotten enough attention in Tiger Woods’ post-Thanksgiving 2009 life is the commitment he made to his kids in the divorce agreement that granted him joint custody of Sam and Charlie Woods. He became the father anyone would want their kids to have. The father that did exactly what was asked of him, exactly what his kids needed him to do, and the father so many would-be dads aspire to be.
How do we know this? Because when your ex-wife, ex-girlfriend (Lindsey Vonn), best friend (Notah Begay), and best acquaintance on tour (Jason Day) are ALL in agreement on something involving divorce and joint custody of kids, you know the information is pretty much factual.
Ever since the first microdisectomy in 2014 and the two comebacks since Tiger has talked about how grateful he is to be able to do the things he loves to do with his kids — namely play soccer with them. He’s a bonafide soccer dad, in the same role so many of his fans are in on many weekends throughout the year.
So when you head to Dubai and a 16-hour flight so soon after two additional back procedures and have previously admitted that basically any ill-advised move, especially when not activated, can cause you major pain, you’re taking a major risk. Tiger isn’t a good sleeper. Planes aren’t great places to be for long stretches of time. You never know jet lag will impact you. This wasn’t a good plan to begin with. Stay home and hone your game on more familiar, controllable turf.
But moreover, this was a bigger risk than that, a bigger risk than something involving your golf game or making your sponsors happy. It was a risk but involving those very fatherly duties he cherishes so much.
Now let me be clear: we don’t know what damage if any the Dubai trip has caused. There have been indications by reading tea leaves that he’s had spasm issues before during this comeback, months prior to this issue. So taken as a whole it’s only speculation as to what impact this has had on Tiger’s overall medical state.
But what has been clear through multiple news conferences that the travails of late 2015-early 2016 led him to see the mortality that is not being able to be that soccer-playing father with Sam and Charlie, not able to be to be as hands-on as he’d like in their lives on a daily basis.
And while no one is doubting that he still won’t or wasn’t or couldn’t be a great dad even in massive discomfort, who wants that lifestyle? No one would.
So here we are, with Tiger Woods having withdrawn from his next two starts with recurring back spasms and staring into the unknown once again: will he yet again chance his back when it may not be ready to be chanced? Will he once again risk that unspoken promise he made to not only a judge and some attorneys but also to Sam and Charlie when he signed those divorce papers?
We can only hope — as golfers hoping to see him rise again and as everyone who wants to see him be a great dad — that all decisions are made with his family being the number one priority from here on out.