After series of dramatic circumstances, surrounding Tiger Woods career over a decade ago, he is back in the upper echelons of golf. The 43-year-old golf professional claimed the 2019 Masters at Augusta in the United States by one stroke on Sunday ahead of a crowded field of competitors. Coming after serial personal scandals and health challenges he had to overcome; the golf world is celebrating Woods’ triumph as one of the greatest comebacks in the history of sports. His resurgence offers an indubitable lesson that with determination, focus, persistence and sacrifice, man can face the most daunting odds and still come out tops.
This is part of the reason why he is receiving admiration from a broad spectrum of lovers of the sport, including his fellow competitors. Among the first to felicitate with him are American President, Donald Trump, and his immediate predecessor, Barrack Obama. Sports icons; Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams (both tennis), Tom Brady (American football) and Michael Phelps (Olympic swimming gold medallist) soon joined the chorus. To show that he transcends sports and business, the shares of Nike — a company he endorses for $200 million — jumped 0.5 per cent to $86.65 in pre-market trading the day after his victory.
Instinctively, many people had written Woods off before his comeback in the Masters, for which he received the winning prize of $2.07 million (the largest in history). For 11 years, his stock crashed, after failing to win a Major. Fourteen years ago was his last Masters title at Augusta. In November 2017, he sank to No. 1,199 in the world rankings. For a player who once held the No. 1 spot in the world for 281 consecutive weeks at the peak of his career before his personal scandals, it was the nadir. His marriage, having crashed, he also suffered a back health problem, and endured surgery four times. Like every other human being, these adversities tested him to the limit.
Even the stoic Woods, who had previously won four Masters titles and 14 Majors to stand among the greats of the sport, is human. After failing repeatedly to win at the highest levels, disbelief and self-doubt in his own ability set in. “I had serious doubts after what transpired a couple of years ago,” Woods said after his fourth surgery. “I could barely walk. I could not sit. I could not lie down. I really could not do much of anything. To have the opportunity to come back like this is probably one of the biggest wins I’ve ever had for sure because of it.” In all probability, only a few people experience such a setback and still come out strong.
Nevertheless, he donned his fifth Green jacket, a trophy given to the winner at Augusta. That ranks him second behind Jack Nicklaus, another golf icon. With six titles, Nicklaus holds the record for the most Masters victories. Incidentally, with his 15 Majors, Woods, who has earned $1.5 billion (as per Forbes) in his glistering career after he came to global attention in 1997, is also behind Nicklaus, the winner of 18 Majors.
All this inspiration would have been lost to history if Woods had chickened out because of the downturn he suffered. He did not allow this to put him down permanently, which is the moral lesson in his story. Indeed, it is an enduring lesson: individuals, organisations and nations should never give up. Throughout history, such exemplary episodes have inspired others to rewrite their own endearing lore.
In 100 days in 1994, Rwanda experienced a genocide in which 800,000 persons lost their lives to inter-ethnic rivalry between the Hutu and Tutsi. Twenty-five years after, Rwanda has rebuilt its socio-economic life, becoming one of the most efficient economies in Africa. Germany, which lost the two world wars, has emerged today as the fourth largest economy in the world behind the US, China and Japan, with a GDP of $3.48 trillion. There is more of this with individuals.
Before his election as the 16th US president in 1861, Abraham Lincoln had to battle through a series of electoral defeats. Lincoln later demonstrated his versatility by leading the US ably during the American Civil War. In South Africa, the late Nelson Mandela suffered unjust incarceration for 27 years under the Apartheid regime. He lost so much on several fronts, but he refused to bow to the oppressors of the black South Africans. After his imprisonment, Mandela was inaugurated as the president of South Africa in 1994, the first black to hold the office. Remarkably, he did only one term in office. Obama, the 44th US president (2009-2017), braved all odds to become the first black US president.
These stories prove that hope is not lost for Nigeria, which is undergoing overwhelming existential challenges in the areas of economy, security and nation-building. The country missed an excellent opportunity to escape the current fiasco after its bitter Civil War of 1967 to 1970. It should not let this happen again. With the country slipping into an infernal abyss, Nigeria can get out of the woods by adopting the Woods paradigm. Those in leadership positions should, therefore, strategically apply themselves to these challenges. With unyielding determination, the real change can be achieved.