For Tiger Woods, the Love Is as Big as Ever

For Tiger Woods, the Love Is as Big as Ever

As missed shots piled up for Woods throughout his second round on Friday, a raucous gallery followed his every move. Four men wore T-shirts with an image of Woods’s mug shot from when he was arrested and charged with suspicion of driving under the influence in 2017. Other onlookers shouted for Woods to work his way back into contention.

It wasn’t to be. Woods shot 72 on Thursday and 73 on Friday, and was five over for the two days, missing the cut by a stroke. That will mean less fan interest and fewer watching on television as there are many people who identify as golf fans but are really Tiger fans, like Travis DeMarco, 30, from Westchester County, who was following Woods on Thursday. “The Tiger roar, I was saying before, we heard the roar, and that’s worth the price of admission alone,” he said.

He bet on Woods at 18-1 to win the Masters, but if Woods is not playing, DeMarco is likely to watch only the Sunday round of a golf tournament.

There is no telling whether Woods’s surgically repaired back will hold up this season, or how great a toll age has taken on him. But with a Masters victory at 43 — capped by him picking up his son, Sam, and embracing his mother — his narrative arc seems complete.

Woods began his long-term residency on tabloid front pages in late 2009, when The National Enquirer reported he had cheated on his wife, Elin Nordegren, with a nightclub hostess. Two days later, he crashed his Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant outside his home after 2 a.m., and a stream of stories emerged that added up to Woods’s being a serial adulterer.

He and Nordegren later divorced.

More damaging to his golf game, however, was his debilitating back pain and the subsequent operations. He went a decade without winning a major tournament, much of the time unable to even play. In 2017, shortly before the spinal fusion procedure that resurrected his career, he told a fellow golfer, “I’m done.”

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