Reconstructing Tiger?

Jeffrey McDanielCorrespondent IFebruary 20, 2010

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 19:  Golfer Tiger Woods hugs his mother Kultida Woods after making a statement from the Sunset Room on the second floor of the TPC Sawgrass, home of the PGA Tour on February 19, 2010 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Woods publicly admitted to cheating on his wife Elin Nordegren but maintained that the issues remain 'a matter between a husband and a wife.'  (Photo by Joe Skipper-Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images

First, let me say this.  I admire what Tiger Woods did this morning. 

It took some stones to say some of the things he had to say.

And I truly believe that what he did (over and over again) is none of our (the public's) business.

I don't care if he's sorry. In fact, part of me believes he should just run with this new persona. 

Imagine the back nine on Sunday at Augusta.

Tiger is tied with one hole to play. He stares down his opponent the way he's done so many victims in the past. 

Only now, maybe he's got a face tattoo. 

Would the fact that he was caught cheating on his wife and just said, "the Hell with it!!" have any bearing on his opponent's psyche? 

I mean, this guy could've worked it out with his Swedish bikini model wife, but decided to just chase every skirt he comes across. He must be that crazy! He could do anything right now! Wait, I'm putting.

Conversely, does all this apologizing to the media, his fans, his foundation, and his business partners somehow weaken his stature on the PGA Tour? 

Do players now think that he's whipped? Is he gonna have his Blackberry on him during the round so he can check in?

It seems like a chink in his armour.

I've said all that to say this: after today, Tiger goes in one of two directions.

Either he comes back to golf more focused, like the Tiger of old, dominates like he never has before, and passes Jack Nicklaus next year, or he stinks up the joint. 

There is no middle ground. 

If he comes back on a tear, winning in one of the first few tournaments he enters, and builds on that momentum, things might turn out good.

If he can dodge the media, or just set the precedent right away that this matter is in the past, he will have a great shot at success.

If he can convince America (and it's America that will need convincing) that he's a changed man, he will have a great shot at success.

If he can somehow become the Tiger of old (professionally), and a new Tiger (privately), then he'll have a great shot at success.

That's a lot of ifs.

Now, consider the alternative.

What if he's terrible? What if he can't find the fairway? What if he misses the cut in one of the first tournaments? What if he bursts into tears mid round?

What if he can't get back the hand he had with the media? What if his wife doesn't give him a seventeenth chance? Or, worst of all, what if we still haven't gotten to the bottom of it all?

Anything is possible at this point. How do we know?

Because he got caught in the first place. 

See, for years Tiger was this impregnable fortress of solitude. No one could crack the code. He just seemed like the perfect athlete—otherworldly dominant, with a beautiful wife and two healthy kids. How could he be tempted? The money seemed almost an afterthought.


He's just sad. Apologizing and embracing his Buddhist heritage (not that there's anything wrong with that), begging the media to leave his family alone. 

Begging his fans to give him a second chance.

In a lot of ways, it almost seems like he was destined for this. In the summer of 2000, when Tiger won three majors (U.S. and British opens, PGA) there was a crusty old man working at the country club where I worked who would say that he had the potential to be really good. 

If only he didn't find a way to screw it up.

Guess what? He found a way to screw it up.

Remember before this whole ordeal. Whenever there was a story about Tiger on ESPN, the photo they showed always had him smiling.

But for the last three months the photo has been Tiger scowling angrily, as if he's about to order Steve Williams to throw someone's camera into a pond for trying to get a picture during his back swing.

Tiger's pubic persona is in pieces. How does he put it back together?

All those fits of rage after bad shots don't seem like someone (with everything) who's just upset about a bad golf shot. They seem like someone who has major flaws waiting to come to the surface.

Imagine that same Sunday back nine.

Squeaky clean Tiger misses a putt that would have given him the lead, prompting Jim Nantz to bring this whole mess up again.

Imagine ESPN stories the following days, weeks, and months.

The saddest thing for his fans is this: when Tiger was on top, with all the trophies and endorsements, he almost seemed too good to be true, and now it looks like he was the whole time.


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