That magical Masters Sunday in 1997 seems so long ago we cannot remember it anymore....
A joyous, delicately-mannered Woods, attired in his customary Sunday red, pumped his fist in victory and a marketing and sporting immortal was spawned in the image of corporate, white America....
Tiger has faced adversity before in his professional and personal life, and he has always rattled it away with a defining victory whether at the 2006 British Open at Hoylake following his father's death months earlier or the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines with only one leg to stand on...but this is a different matter
It does not matter how many women (mistresses, companions, gold-diggers, whatever term you want to label them) Tiger Woods slept with while married; As the old adage notes, "It only takes one." Media tabloids and a mass of Internet traffic have revealed and suggested Tiger's infidelity and ridiculing him for their own petty expense and Internet traffic ratings.
Needless to say, he is a man who has much to learn about being a man. Correctly, Tiger has admitted to his failures and weaknesses of the past and vows to strive to improve his role as a father, husband, and public figure by taking an "indefinite" leave of absence from professional golf. The question that begs a curious public, "What are we supposed to do until he resurfaces?"
First, there have been some pretty alarming and gruesome reports published about Woods' sexual escapades, from paying $60,000 for three girls at a time from a Hollywood madam to arranging sexual trysts on golf tournament weekends (both overseas and domestically) to having public sex in a church parking lot to a myriad of his partners, marveling at his stamina/performance, but gentlemanly behavior as well...the countless hits keep on coming at the automaton that is Tiger Woods. What are we to take away from these reports?
Do not suggest that Tiger Woods go on Oprah or do another exclusive interview to reveal his vulnerability and try to gather sympathy from an understanding public. He is Tiger Woods, a billionaire athlete, who does not necessitate a convenient "pay-day." To even suggest the idea is ludicrous and displays a complete misunderstanding of the persona of Tiger Woods.
He will not reveal the saucy, explicit details of his infidelities, not because he is too arrogant and smug to believe that the public does not deserve to hear the truth; It is because it is not their place to know what happened. This is a private, family manner between him and Elin (especially considering there are two children involved).
Time does not heal all wounds, and to this writer, there is no completely forgiving a man who commits adultery. He is not more human or vulnerable to me because he slept with other woman while married; He lost respect that can never be regained, and I firmly believe he has come to realize that no matter what he does, things will never be the way they were ever again (to whom much is given, much is expected).
It is not impossible for an athlete, even in today's more "adult, mature-content" world, to be faithful to his spouse. We all have weaknesses, but it is called temptation for a reason. All this candor aside, it is more important now that Tiger and Elin are committed to saving their marriage for the sake of their innocent children.
As long as we can remember, Tiger Woods has been an enigma to our minds. He was the man who was not the sentimental favorite, but the athlete who we watched and respected in aura of his accomplishments and immaculate performances. Tiger Woods' image as the premier sports icon is what I liken to Will Smith's top billing in a Hollywood movie: guaranteed success.
He was the perfect brand to market to the public: intelligent, motivated, focused, successful, handsome, and the list of superlatives goes on and on...We knew of him as the boyish youth, that posted on his wall the major championship triumphs of Jack Nicklaus, who believed that someday he would break that seemingly infallible and hallowed mark of excellence.
And now here he is on the doorstep....
It is impossible to imagine Tiger Woods not making an appearance at Augusta National in early April in hopes of capturing a 15th major championship and fifth green jacket. It is not fair or appropriate for people to suggest that he skip the majors this year to show his dedication to Elin and his sacrifice for their family together.
The public has no grounds to demand or accept appropriations from Woods in light of his marital infidelity because he was not elected by us to a position of public office; simply, he is an athlete, albeit one of the greatest we will ever be privileged to witness. That does not mean he will not see a different gallery roaming the course grounds at whatever tournaments in which he participates in the future.
There will be people yelling obscenities and making crude, lewd gestures at Tiger, and he must endure that because that will be the only arena in which the public has hopes of cracking or making Tiger respond.
However, he is the most focused, motivated, concentrated, and driven individual I have ever come across so I would not hold my breath if the public expects Tiger to "duck and cover" in lieu his admitted failures. He will attend press conferences, but he will not answer any of the questions the media wants or expects him to reciprocate his feelings about. After all, he is what he always has been: simply Tiger Woods.
It has been quite the polarizing year in golf: Beloved Phil Mickelson takes time away from golf to support his wife in her breast cancer struggle, while Tiger Woods is revealed as a cheater. However, there is no need for the public to feel the necessity to pick a side because there are no battle lines drawn.
Because inside the ropes, its just a man and a ball; That is the pure essence of the sport of golf. It is a means of escape, and there will be nothing more healing to Tiger Woods than returning to the golfing world to which he is accustomed and firmly entrenched as the undisputed kingpin.
What are we to think of Tiger Woods now?
People are free to arrive at whatever conclusions they feel are acceptable, but I believe that Tiger Woods has begun the road to recovery with his admittance to infidelity in a released statement from yesterday. He is a man who is attempting to rehabilitate his relationship with his wife and family in hopes that his children do not suffer ultimately.
The public relations nightmare and hell that has been unleashed on Tiger Woods for the past two weeks has brought his guilt to the surface, but nothing will leave a more noticeable mark than remaining married to the woman he so viciously hurt with multiple sexual affairs.
His personal life will remain shrouded and hidden from us, even more so now, but he will never viewed in the same light again for the times and circumstances have changed. Regardless, he is still Tiger Woods, who I wholeheartedly believe is the greatest athlete that has ever dazzled in the world of sports.
He is an unsatisfied winner who strives to be a perfectionist, but was ultimately undone and unraveled by a weakness to which most men can prescribe: women. For the past few weeks, he has been battered and scarred, but today he grabbed a hold of his opponent and the bell has just rung, signaling the end of the round.
Tiger Woods is going to come out swinging with a breadth of fresh life, Get ready, world, because here he comes and this time there is no one that can stop him.