x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

The comeback kid

Tiger Woods is back, maybe. However vile his mistakes, the man can certainly play golf.

Few heroes of popular culture have ever fallen as far and as fast as Tiger Woods did in 2009. His marital scandal not only destroyed his reputation and cost him millions in endorsement deals, but it also interrupted his career. He took several months off from the Professional Golfers' Association tour, and since his return he has shown his old élan only sporadically.

For many who follow golf, as indeed for many who cannot name another pro golfer, Woods has forfeited his "hero" stature forever. But the world does still respond to excellence - and everyone understands the human drama of a comeback.

So last weekend's heroics by Woods at a course in Ohio, where he finished with a five-under-par 67 to win the Memorial Tournament, carried the sound of trumpets, faint and distant but sweet and unmistakable. This was the old Tiger, mixing precision putting, majestic tee shots, and clutch drives. A murmur ran through the ranks of those who can see beyond - or ignore - Woods's serial infidelity. Next stop: the US Open.

Error and redemption are a vital theme, perhaps the vital theme, in human experience. You don't have to be a golf fan to hope to see Tiger's career moving back into high gear.