By Charles Gardner, UK Correspondent
As a former golf correspondent, I was shocked to hear of the serious car crash involving Tiger Woods in Los Angeles.
According to those on the scene, he is lucky to be alive after what was evidently a terrifying high-speed incident, the cause of which we can only speculate.
He might well have found fame, fortune and fast cars. But he’s had a rough ride in life, what with marriage breakdown, reports of affairs and a succession of injuries.
And when a combination of these sent him into the sporting wilderness, we thought it was all over – until his remarkable comeback in the US Masters a couple of years ago.
Ironically, from what I saw on my TV screen, his car wreck ended up in the woods where, true to his name, he often sent his drives on the golf course before somehow pulling off a miraculous recovery shot. You can’t help admiring his supreme talent while also feeling compassion for his present predicament.
As far as I know, he is the third golfing legend to have been rescued from a serious car crash – the others being South Africa’s Bobby Locke and the great American player Ben Hogan, who was one of my boyhood heroes and whose brand of clubs I used.
Bobby and Ben both came back from the brink to capture a whole heap of priceless trophies – the South African going on to win four British Opens and Hogan completing the Grand Slam of majors – still one of only a handful to have achieved this feat.
Woods, of course, has already done it several times over, but he’s still three short of catching Jack Nicklaus, who has 18 majors to his name. I don’t think he can beat that, but I’ll be more than happy if I’m proved wrong.
For whatever reason he took that dangerous drive that could have led to oblivion, he has clearly been snatched from the jaws of death. And I have an inkling that the Lord is in it.
So will you join me in praying for his speedy recovery but, more importantly, for his acknowledgement of divine intervention in the crash that could well have ended his life.
May he come to know the Saviour and become a bold witness for him, as many golfing stars have done before him – most notably Germany’s Bernhard Langer, who won the first of his two US Masters on Easter Day 1985, shortly after committing his life to Jesus. Langer has been a high-profile disciple of Christ ever since – even making an impact on my sports-mad older brother in Australia.
American Tom Lehman was another who, after winning the 1996 Open Championship at Royal Lytham and St Anne’s in Lancashire, testified to his faith in Christ during his victory speech.
It was at that event that I caught my first sight of the young Woods, then just 20 and already heading for stardom, according to the punters. I wasn’t so sure, but I was proved wrong.
We were watching that Open as part of a reunion for my now global family, and a nod to a lifelong passion for the game which my doctor dad had so encouraged us all to play. A top amateur himself, he played an exhibition round with Locke back in 1958, after which they became friends as the great man would often call in on dad for treatment of a long-running ailment.
I wanted to be a pro myself, but had the privilege of doing the next best thing for a golf fanatic by reporting on many tournaments for the South African press. It was at Turnberry in 1977 that Locke and the legendary Gene Sarazen stood me and a colleague to a beer in a hospitality tent.
But I never met the Tiger! Now that would have been a really big name to drop. But my prayer today is that he will ‘roar’ once again and get to know the God of creation as his Lord and Saviour, whose message to Tiger – and all of us – is: “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” — Jer 29:11
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