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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.


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Here’s the latest Teeing It Up with Jeremy Schilling podcast, this time with Golf Digest Associate Editor Stephen Hennessey as we look back on everything that happened in golf in 2016 (so much so that we accidentally left out the Olympics!):

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Here’s this week’s edition of Teeing It Up with Jeremy Schilling, featuring Kyle DeManincor talking the NBA.

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Luke Mauro and I preview Week 14 of the NFL season in this week’s Teeing It Up Presents: The Sunday Sprint:

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Here’s the audio from my December 5, 2016 podcast with Shawn Davison about Tiger Woods’ return at the Hero World Challenge and the College Football Playoff:

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For those disillusioned right now on this Election Night I’ll give you this: a couple weeks ago on a golf trip my dad and I had a spectator walk with us, a family friend who had never experienced live golf before.

About five holes into the round, we — a twosome — let the group behind join us to create a foursome (commonplace in golf). I, wearing a New York Jets ski cap, promptly noticed one of the gentleman that joined us was wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers ski cap and immediately uttered something to the tune of, jokingly “so I guess we gotta let this Steelers fan join us, huh?”

He laughed, shook my hand, and we had a grand old time.

After the round my family friend was extremely surprised that I had the guts to do that — why I would give this guy grief literally 1 second after meeting him knowing I had to spend the next 3.5 hours with him — if the gentleman found it rude, my family friend reasoned, I’d have to deal with a hater…who wants that experience?

My reasoning doesn’t matter here — I’ve learned body language over 614 rounds of golf in 19 years — but it speaks to a larger point: golf, a game of honor, dignity, kindness and etiquette, involves playing alongside people you may vehemently disagree with on a whole lot of things in life.

So whether you like what happened tonight or not, remember that you can make America great simply by being a nice person and being kind to everyone you come in contact with. If we can do it in golf every single day for four hours at a time, we can do it in life, too.

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Just make it competitive. Don’t embarrass me. Please.

Texans 34
Jets 20

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