Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Books: "Roaring Back" on Tiger's Triumph At The Masters

Roaring Back: The Fall and Rise of Tiger Woods
By Curt Sampson
Diversion Books; hardcover, 253 pages; $26.99

Tiger Woods hit rock bottom ten years ago, when a car accident outside of his house led to revelations of problems in his marriage and numerous affairs. He then struggled over the next decade to stay healthy, undergoing numerous surgeries, including a spinal fusion. 
The question overriding everything was whether we would ever see the Tiger Woods of his prime ever again.

We did this past April, when he won The Masters for the fifth time, clinching his first Major championship since 2008.

In Roaring Back: The Fall and Rise of Tiger Woods, renowned golf writer and New York Times bestselling author Curt Sampson chronicles one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.

Sampson recounts all of Woods' setbacks, shedding new light on them, as well as exploring why Tiger is the world champion he is. Through intense physical pain, Woods kept his devotion to practice, working through his unhealthy obsession with his own swing, and his uncanny knack for making the long putt.

Sampson says of Woods' comeback not being just a sports comeback, but a complete rebuilding of his personal reputation, "We have to look at what athletes usually have had to come back from: injury, illness, long slumps, trouble with the law or with drugs, and so on. I took pains in the book to highlight some other comeback stories 0 some you've heard of, some you haven't. Such as Ben Hogan, most famously - but also of Skip Alexander, a promising golf pro from North Carolina, who barely survived a plane crash and burns over 7- percent of his body, who required surgery to remove knuckles and sever tendons so that he could hold a club again. He had one last great round, in the '51 Ryder Cup, when his hands bled badly but he won his singles match. But Tiger recovered not only from spinal fusion surgery, but also from being a laughingstock and the butt of thousands of jokes. His comeback therefore had a different flavor than anyone else's. Ever."

On what made Tiger's fifth Masters championship so unlikely, Sampson said, "His age and back. Many thousands of reps of his violent swing made him require surgery that's not unusual for middle-aged people but should be the end of the road for a golfer. On the other hand, Tiger gave a very strong hint that he was feeling good and swinging well when he won the 2018 Tour Championship. Also, he's had 86 tournament rounds at Augusta National, where course knowledge and experience is so important." 

There are exclusive interviews with Tiger's caddies, past instructors, and his PGA Tour peers, making this book a celebration of his Masters triumph and a window into the tenacity and grit that had made the unthinkable seem almost inevitable.

Sampson said of why he, and the world, is so fascinated by Tiger Woods, "I think it's a combination of three things: first, it's his gaudy success - the eighty wins and fifteen majors. Second, it's that he's been so successful for so long. He's  been front and center - golf's biggest star - since he was a teenager, and he's forty-three now. The third thing is that he's absolutely electric when he's playing well, a riveting performer you can't take your eyes off. And he is - or was - among the hardest workers and most diligent practicers we've ever seen."

If you are a Tiger fan, Roaring Back is the book for you, and for any on your Christmas list.

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