The Rise, Fall and Rise of Tiger

Tiger Woods tees off at the fourth hole during the third round of the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga., Saturday, April 10, 2010.
Tiger Woods tees off at the fourth hole during the third round of the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga., Saturday, April 10, 2010. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
On this final day of The Masters golf tournament in Georgia, in contention once again is Tiger Woods. Armen Keteyian in Augusta has this Sunday Journal:

In golf, as in life, there is flight. Soaring drives eventually drop to earth, serving as metaphors for success or failure.

If so, one would be hard-pressed to find a more spectacular rise, and fall, from grace than that of Eldrick "Tiger" Woods.

"My failures have made me look at myself in a way I never wanted to before," he said last February 19. "I convinced myself that normal rules didn't apply. I never thought about who I was hurting."

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Woods took his first swing at the tender age of 2, was on national TV at 4.

The mission as mapped out by his father, Earl, an ex-Green Beret: Turn his son into the best golfer of all time, the chosen one who appeared on "Sunday Morning" back in 1992:

"It's a pretty big burden if you think about it, but I don't think about it," he told CBS News then.

Following a historic amateur career Tiger turned pro at the tender age of 20, scoring a record Nike endorsement deal - $43 million - almost overnight.

The world, it seemed, couldn't get enough of an athlete who had the name and game to change the sport forever.

Record-crowds, and record-setting wins quickly followed. So did gold-plated sponsors, a gorgeous Swedish wife, and two adorable children. His priorities in place, as he told Ed Bradley of "60 Minutes":

"Family is the top priority," he said.

Yes, indeed, Tiger Woods had it all, until the early-morning hours of November 27, 2009.

A car crash that would open the door to a secret, double-life . . . a series of sordid affairs . . . a tabloid-fueled scandal that tore a carefully-constructed image in two.

"I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated," he told the press last February.

Early on, it was hard to watch. A visibly-shaken Woods talking about addiction, treatment, years of lies and deception.

"I hurt my wife, my kids, my mother, my wife's family, my friends, my foundation and kids all around the world who admired me," he said.

After five months off from competitive golf, Woods chose the Masters to stage his comeback.

And in many ways, Augusta is the perfect place: Pristine, controlled, filled with sports most knowledgeable (and, perhaps, forgiving) fans.

"The enthusiasm that exists here is unbelievable," said 3-time Masters champion Gary Player. "And this beautiful golf course with the echoes of people cheering and screaming is just unmatched."

Player said it's time to move on: "As far as his life is concerned, he knows he's made a mistake, he's apologized. Let the man go on and play ball now."

As the week at Augusta wore on, polite applause turned into full-throated roars once more.

Answering questions for the first time from a room of reporters certainly helped. ("I take full responsibility for what I've done and I don't take that lightly," Woods said April 5.) So did a more engaging, less arrogant attitude.

All leading up to this mesmerizing moment . . . an official welcome back that seemed to turn the page on scandal, back to the game of golf.

It remains to be seen if Woods will be able to rebuild his marriage to Elin, or regain the trust of fans and sponsors.

For now Woods says he's stripped away all the lies, fostering a new-found flight . . . a path towards what's truly important.

"It's not about championships," he said. "It's about how you live your life."

More on Tiger Woods and the Masters:
Tiger's Play Keeps Raising Eyebrows
Return of Tiger: Complete Coverage's Mike Freeman Follows Tiger
Track Tiger's Masters Scorecard