When initially hearing about Tiger Woods’ major life and addiction struggles in 2009, winning a Masters green jacket a decade later was far from realistic, in everyone’s mind. In fact, Woods said at the time he would be taking an ‘indefinite break’ from golf. How did Woods achieve one of the most talked-about come-back stories? How did he regain public and corporate support while effectively nurturing a positive reputation? It wasn’t easy – but through guided steps in taking responsibility and implementing affirmative life changes, Woods was able to, again, win the Masters.
Woods’ troubles began in November 2009, driving into a fire hydrant while under the influence. Sponsors such as Gatorade and AT&T immediately dropped the golfing legend due to his misbehavior off the green. Following his poor choices, he then tore his Achilles and didn’t play a full tournament until December 2016 at the Hero World Challenge.
Woods’ first step towards his eventual 2019 green jacket was apologizing to fellow players and the public via US Weekly for his embarrassing decisions – step one: recognition and public apology. Through apologizing and announcing his remorse for his wrong-doings, it allowed the public to see he acknowledged his actions, and that he recognized was a dramatic need for change. Regardless of a company’s or individual’s position in the spotlight, mistakes do happen, bad choices are made and apologies can be accepted – as long as the person is truly remorseful and doesn’t repeat the bad behavior.
Step two: taking action. As we all heard when we were young, actions speak louder than words. Woods apologized, and immediately completed a rehabilitation program which prompted the progress toward becoming the pro golfer we all love. This allowed fans to applaud Woods changing his moral outlook, correcting his mistakes and creating movement toward positive change.
Step three: patience and persistence. Woods did not walk out of rehab and play his best 18 rounds of golf – it took time, a long time. Tiger Woods began playing in tournaments and losing – everyone thought he was finished. Effectively laying low, apologizing publicly, making efforts towards positive and sincere change and absorbing the heat of playing bad golf all enabled his eventual rebirth – adversity is advantage. This low point allowed Woods time for regrouping and confidence building as a private person and professional golfer.
Step four: learn from mistakes. Woods is now coming off of his best week of golf – winning the 2019 Masters. He used his struggles as a building block in his career. He publicly discussed his come-back story and lessons learned. This created a sense of comfort and trust for fans and sponsors.
Crisis isn’t easy – but if handled correctly, can be an opportunity for long-term, sustainable growth. There is no question, Tiger’s 2019 green jacket symbolized more than simply winning the Masters.