They were everywhere Sunday afternoon at the WGC-Workday Championship at The Concession, all these PGA Tour golfers dressed in red shirts and black pants. Unfortunately, the man who made that fashion combination famous for Sunday golfing attire wasn't among them, the legendary Tiger Woods confined to a Los Angeles hospital bed as he attempts to recover from career-threatening injuries sustained in a SUV crash last Tuesday.
Still, the gesture was pretty cool, and certainly well deserved, for no golfer since Arnold Palmer has done as much to boost the allure and financial power of golf on the world stage as Eldrick "Tiger" Woods.
For the better part of the past 15 years, Woods has been golf, for better or worse, though mostly to the good. No, he probably won't surpass Jack Nicklaus's record 18 majors, which once seemed a certainty. Though he reached No. 15 with his unexpected victory at the 2019 Masters, Woods' ongoing back problems and advancing age (45) had already appeared to cut short that possibility even before incurring multiple leg fractures last week.
Beyond that, his personal issues with infidelity and driving under the influence long ago tarnished his once carefully constructed and controlled image as some sort of golfing cyborg, obsessed with golf and golf alone.
It is here that an old quote from his late father Earl, a serial philanderer, can't be ignored. Said Papa Woods in 2001: "A wife can be a deterrent to a good golf game. The level Tiger's at, finite problems could destroy him."
Of course, the wife didn't destroy him. The mistresses did a fair amount of damage, however, as well as the injuries, and the accidents, and maybe, just maybe, the price of fame in today's celebrity-obsessed, 24-7 news cycle world.
Another Papa quote to consider: "You can't have it both ways. You can't have the fire, intensity, competitiveness and aggressiveness if you don't blow off steam."
No one has it both ways forever. Life has a way of humbling you, revealing your worst weaknesses as well as your greatest strengths. So Tiger fell, rose again, then suffered the cruelest of tumbles last week because of what appears to be an accident.
Yet a story told by former professional caddie and current ESPN analyst Michael Collins may also be why we should all pull hard for Woods' recovery and return.
Appearing on ESPN, Collins recalled a conversation with golfing great Paul Azinger about the change in Woods in recent years. In the old days, Azinger reportedly told Collins: "Tiger was uncomfortable (on the course) if you were comfortable with him. Now he's uncomfortable if you're not comfortable with him."
So on Sunday in Bradenton, Florida, a lot of guys whose paychecks are a lot more comfortable because of Tiger's impact on golf got comfortable in red shirts and black pants. Equal to that tribute, if not greater, was what happened at the Puerto Rico Championship — a PGA Tour event played opposite the World Golf Championship taking place in Florida — where that course's entire grounds crew dressed in red shirts and black pants. To borrow a line from ESPN's Scott Van Pelt, that might have been the best sports moment I saw all day.
Nobody's perfect. Not Woods. Not the late Kobe Bryant. Not Tom Brady. (Well, maybe Brady, or maybe he just has better spin doctors.) But life is about evolving, changing, recognizing and erasing your imperfections rather than constantly drawing attention to your perfections.
Which brings us to Max Homa, who won last week's Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles, with tournament host Woods presenting him the trophy.
On Saturday night, Homa apparently took to social media to say he would honor Woods by trying to play his best in the final round of the WGC-Workday Championship (he tied for 22nd behind winner Collin Morikawa). Unfortunately, that did not include him wearing a red shirt due to his apparel sponsorships, which apparently earned him quite the rebuke on social media.
Understandably weary of the criticism, Homa finally wrote, in part, the following: "I love Tiger more than u guys. Promise. Listen to an interview from last week. Red and black doesn't prove that. A lifelong attempt to mimic his approach to the game does."
Anyone not comfortable with that should make us all uncomfortable.