“You pat him on the back and say congratulations and enjoy it and tell him not serve fried chicken next year. Got it? Or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve.” — Fuzzy Zoeller, 1997
Resurrection Sunday, or Easter if you prefer it, is this coming Sunday. Easter is one of those holidays that holds a special place for Believers. It is the day when that was designated by non-pagan folks as the day to celebrate Jesus rising from the dead. Romans 10:9 is the allusion to Easter, or Jesus’ resurrection, that Christianity is fundamentally grounded on. We believe in His power because we believe He rose His son.
So it’s only natural that Resurrection Sunday is a church centric holiday. Most of us have participated in ‘Sunrise Service’ one time in our lives. I vividly remember waking up at 4 a.m., getting dressed in my new Easter suit and heading to church nervous because I didn’t want to jack up my Easter speech. As I aged, the Easter speeches turned into Easter play lines and despite weeks of rehearsal, you knew a missed line was coming. The hope is that it’s close enough that your playmate don’t jack their line up and mess up the entire act.
Resurrection Sunday — like Christmas and Thanksgiving — is a holiday focus on family. Entire families, all in their new Easter ‘fits’, walk into church, sleepy-eyed, and worship as the first of the day’s sun rays break through the stained glass windows.
COVID-19 will put a damper on the 2020 edition of Resurrection Sunday. With churches having their doors shuttered, Easter worship services will be virtual as has been since the pandemic went — well viral. What the coronavirus has also done is postponed the Masters Tournament, which was supposed to have begun Thursday with the championship round on Easter Sunday. [Has been moved to November.] And one can’t think of the Masters without thinking of Eldrick Woods.
It can be argued that no one changed the landscape of an entire sport like Tiger Woods. Prize money ballooned. Driving distance increased. Courses changed to become more “Tiger Proof” and even for a short term, golf participation rose, spiking at 29.8 million in 2006 after Woods’ fourth Masters win. This happened due to a young man who just seven years prior to his winning his first Masters title wouldn’t have even been allowed into Augusta National because he looks like this writer.
Zoeller went down in infamy with his obvious, ‘look, he’s black’ comments back in ’97 after Woods destroyed the field by 12 strokes to win Masters championship No. 1. Even as late as 2013, Woods golfing competitors were throwing racial jabs as Sergio García was reported as saying, “We will have him round every night. We will serve fried chicken.” But despite Woods’ nationality being as mixed as a New Orleans gumbo, his celebratory fist pumps after another birdie or donning his championship red, glowing as bright as Superman’s ‘S’, his greatness as a golfer still couldn’t truly get him past his melanin.
Am I saying Woods is perfect? Absolutely not. His sin became his downfall. But this isn’t about Woods and the fragility of man. This is about Woods as the golfer, the 11 time PGA Tour Player of the Year, the club that once barred our kind and how he conquered it five times, the second most in PGA history.
As we celebrate Resurrection Sunday in whatever way COVID-19 has left us with, sports, specifically golf aficionados, will see another major sporting event quieted. The Masters will always be remembered for what Tiger did — and for the racial cross he beared to do it.
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