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Column: Letter of appreciation to Tiger Woods

Dear Tiger,

My name is Baldev Singh (no relation to Vijay) and I too play golf. You may have heard of me. Last month, I won the prestigious Iraq Open. Let me tell you, it was an amazing experience. I’ve never played on a course with so many bunkers. At first, I was reluctant to go to Iraq. But my friend Mahmoud said to me, “Don’t worry, Baldev. Everyone has a blast there.”

You must be wondering why Baldev, Iraq Open Champion, is writing you. Well, I heard you will not be playing again this year to recover from your knee injury and, on behalf of other professional golfers, I just want to say this: THANK YOU.

Thank you for giving us a chance. We know you could have kept on playing. You won the U.S. Open with an injured leg — a torn ligament and two stress fractures — and you could have won the British Open while lying on a stretcher. You could have made us look really bad. You could have made us read headlines like this: “Woods Wins British Open, Returns to Intensive Care Unit.”

But instead, you decided to be a generous man. And we are very thankful for that. Phil Mickelson is so grateful, he plans to mention you in his autobiography “Almost the Best.” David Toms is so grateful, he plans to compete in the British Open with the letters “DT” (Dedicated to Tiger) on his shirt. Vijay Singh is so grateful, he plans to donate 10 percent of his earnings this year to the Save the Tiger Fund.

We appreciate all you have done for golf, Tiger. Thanks to you, many people are watching golf, even people in Afghanistan who usually prefer to watch goats graze. Thanks to you, golf is considered a real sport, no longer competing for attention with bingo and knitting. Thanks to you, we golfers are now considered athletes. Even John Daly is feeling a little athletic. You should have seen him running after the hot-dog cart.

You have won 14 major championships in the last 12 years. You have won every major tournament at least three times. You have nothing left to prove. That is why, on behalf of other professional golfers, I would like to ask you an important question: Have you ever considered early retirement?

Well, it wouldn’t really be “early.” After all, you have won 65 tournaments on the PGA tour. It is a significant number because, as you know, most people retire at 65. If I had won 65 tournaments, where do you think you would find me? On an island in the Caribbean, with a Swedish model by my side. You already have the Swedish model; all you need now is an island. There are many islands you can afford to buy. Is Trinidad big enough for you? What about Jamaica?

You have a lovely one-year-old daughter, Sam Alexis. Vijay, Phil and I were touched by the way she reached out to you at the U.S. Open. She couldn’t talk, but looking at her expression, it was very clear to us what she was thinking: “Daddy, aren’t you tired of hitting that little white ball? Don’t you want to spend more time with me?”

You have earned almost $800 million in your career, but just in case you don’t have enough money, Vijay, Phil and I have created the Tiger Woods Retirement Fund. We will each contribute 5 percent of our winnings from every tournament you miss. Vijay, bless his heart, has even agreed to take over all your sponsorship deals.

What do you say, Tiger? Do it for your wife. Do it for your daughter. Do it for Baldev, Iraq Open Champion.

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