Yesterday, golfer Tiger Woods held a press conference to confirm what we’ve been speculating for months: he cheated, he cheated a lot, and he was/is in rehab for it.
But one part of the monotonously recited speech stood apart from the rest: “Normal rules didn’t apply…I felt I was entitled.”
He said that because he had worked so hard for his whole life he deserved to enjoy temptation—probably a profound revelation on his part—and if you have watched Tiger Woods in person at anytime in the past three or four years, you know that came from the heart.
I covered The Barclays when it came to Jersey City in September 2009 as a newly hired reporter for The Jersey Journal . Like any non-golf fan, the only thing I looked forward to was witnessing the spectacle that was Tiger Woods. After hours of walking around in steady rains, and sharp winds…I found the legend.
After pushing through hundreds of on-lookers to get a good shot of Tiger, I froze. Security guards? A scowl? Ehh, he is Tiger Woods, after all. He hadn’t shot yet—perhaps he was just focused.
But after the shot, no difference. He walked passed all of us without any sort of acknowledgment.
Suddenly, the security didn’t seem to be protecting him from potential crazies, but rather, protecting him from me, from the parent to my left, or the teen to my right. I knew he was stand offish with the press, and socially awkward with hecklers and photographers, but it was no different for casual fans. He didn’t even turn his head.
The fame had finally gotten to him. He was the only golfer on the course with any kind of security and no interaction with the fans.
Phil Mickelson waved to fans, spoke with friends as he walked to the next whole, signed autographs after his 18th. His following may not have been as large as Tiger’s (it was close), but it was rowdy, it was boisterous, and it was fun.
Tiger had followers, Phil had fans. We watch Tiger, we root for Phil.
Tiger's demeanor changed from an exciting, young golfer who captured the eyes and hearts of the world to a stuck-up brat. The cursing at the cameramen (though I understand it's frustrating), the insincere waves, if any, to appease the thousands who were there just to see him—that's not the Tiger we fell in love with so many years ago.
I guarantee the issues off the course are related to issues on it.
Tiger didn’t owe anyone outside of his wife and family an apology—at least not for the transgressions—and I would say the only press conference he needed to have was the one to announce his return to the game.
But admitting he thought he deserved to indulge in temptation—the revelation that, surprisingly, people aren’t talking about—is something athletes don’t readily admit.
I know critics didn’t want him to read a prepared statement and they expected something more open and emotional, but that’s not Tiger. That’s as sincere and as emotional as you’re going to get out of our social butterfly, Mr. Tiger Woods.