The first official round of the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club is still more than a week away. That means we're still about six days from an abject furor that will descend upon the globe, the likes of which we may not be able to comprehend until it happens.
When Tiger Woods' return hits high gear at his April 5th unscripted date with members of the media (ones who haven't been hand-picked), many eyes that will never see an iron or wood put to golf ball will be watching in slack-jawed fascination.
Fans of the game must be awaiting Woods' first competitive swings like the proverbial child on Christmas Eve.
I won't be in either group, but I can't say I blame anyone who will be marinating in front of a television until Eldrick goes off the rails or wins another green jacket (this is the tourney with the jacket, right?).
The guy's epic international appeal and the wattage of his star power has turned the personal meltdown into a spectacle for the ages. One that reaches far beyond the arena of athletics and embraces audiences that have zero interest in any sport, let alone golf.
The father of two's well-documented dalliances and their fallout have coalesced into the type of thing that will make millionaires out of people he's never met via book sales and land them on whatever morning show drivel is on these days.
Whether you're in awe of the best golfer on the planet or whether you desperately try to ignore him, there is no denying that Woods is an enormous fish in the biggest pond you can imagine.
This truism is the 34-year-old's toughest problem left to solve in the wake of his defeat at the hands of...sex addiction (that scrape you heard was the bottom of the barrel).
The size of Woods' celebrity absolutely promises that TMZ, dung-beetle types will always be a speeding ticket away. That, in turn, assures the memory of the scandal will be difficult to kill.
If innocuous brushes with the fuzz will create a frenzy, further tawdry revelations will cause a stampede that may cost lives.
Remember how we've still got more than a week before Tiger makes his return to the golf course for play that counts?
Well, that hasn't stopped floozy No. I-Don't-Care from beginning to milk the situation.
The porn star who allegedly took a number at the counter and somehow got served by a dude married to a model has been whacking the money pinata like crazy.
Incidentally, I think we can remove the "allegedly" modifier because I have yet to hear a denial from Tiger's camp. A development that calls into question every time Woods has ever been described as intelligent.
Regardless, what's-her-name has been slowly stringing out the sexually suggestive text messages she says are from the golfer. She's produced e-mails purported to be from his inner circle. She's titillated her legions with hints of photos; the mind shudders at what that could mean.
As we get closer and closer to R-Day, this fine lady has started busting out the big guns (all puns intended).
Apparently, she's slated to pole-dance while the Masters is underway and even announced plans to attend the event .
The last stunt is particularly revealing because John Boehner has a better chance surviving the streets of Berkeley than a female sex worker has of waltzing into Augusta. This place is good ol' boy to the core; unless I'm wrong, there still are no female members (something or other about menstruation attracting bears, I think).
Now, it's going to roll out the welcome wagon for a public fornicator looking for nothing except attention and disruption? I think not.
Nevertheless, her threat was blithely accepted and reported alongside everything else because it was about Woods.
True or false, possible or not, it all gets tossed in the same bin and that bin gets emptied onto the blogosphere and shelves with sheer abandon. All because jackets are not the only green that accumulates around him.
Dollars are getting harder to come by and it's all about the money—the Wu-Tang wasn't messing around with "C.R.E.A.M."
And it will only get worse.
Martha Burk, who waged the first battle on behalf of women against Augusta, already has picked up the scent of publicity . She's following the cash for a different reason, but she's following it.
So will others.
What happens when some cantankerous soul decides it's outrageous that Woods, married to a white woman, is rocking an 0-fer in the mistress column as far as women of color are concerned?
Or that he used the past tense when referencing his love for the little wife and reportedly isn't wearing a wedding ring?
You know, the important stuff.
More pressingly, though, is the classy women with whom the prize of the PGA has chosen to affiliate himself. These are the kind of broads who would most definitely save every scrap of evidence from an affair with a celebrity.
In this era of information overload, think of what that means.
Think of how much material the "actress" has and how excruciatingly long she will try to make her 15 minutes. Then remind yourself she is one of a considerable subset.
If even a couple more paradigms of virtue follow her lead, there will be no peace for Woods.
Not now, not for years, maybe not ever...as long as he stays in the public eye.
Which begs an entirely different question for another day.