Martin Smith column: History repeats itself as Tiger Woods finds greatness again

Tiger Woods reacts as he wins the Masters golf tournament Sunday, April 14, 2019, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Tiger Woods reacts as he wins the Masters golf tournament Sunday, April 14, 2019, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

''Oh my God, he's won the title back at 32!'' 

If you listen carefully, somewhere on the sporting ether you can still hear the late Harry Carpenter declaiming into the Zairean night for the BBC at the end of Muhammad Ali's 1974 victory over George Foreman in the Rumble in the Jungle.

Tiger Woods’ comeback to greatness is of a similar magnitude.

Ten years in the injury-plagued, alimony-actioning, drug abusing, back spasming, drink-driving wilderness with endless operations chasing what looked like his lost youth and the form that made him one of the most remarkable athletes of all time.

‘Give it up Tiger, you’re an embarrassment’ was the unwritten - and often written - subtext for millions around the world.

True champions, they say, know when to give up. They also know when not to give up, sometimes.

In this column in December 2011 Woods downfall and determination to return was examined after what turned out to be the false dawn of his win in the Chevron World Challenge in California.

Then it was noted that Woods may have been a jerk, rude, lewd and not nice to be around for all I knew. But so have a lot of other people. 

In every workplace, pub and golf club there will be worse than Tiger Woods.

The real reason people were so glad to see him fall is because he was so good.

Now he’s back on top, Masters Champion 2019, however temporarily that may be for a man of 43.

The blood, sweat and surgery that have gone in to making his body fit for the top again are unimaginable to most of us, the mental battles he has had to win unfathomable to anyone but him.

I don’t know Tiger Woods and I still don’t know if he’s a decent bloke or a cad, a focused and determined individual or an ass. I don’t really care. He’s won his title back at the age of 43.

*A man who knew a bit about winning once described this time of year as ‘squeaky bum time’.

Sheffield United and their fans know exactly what he meant.

There will be twists and trials galore before it’s over and Chris Wilder will trust the standards and principles that have got them to where they are.

Eighteen points to play for, anything can happen.