To say that there has been a lot of hand-wringing over revelations about the personal life of Tiger Woods is complete understatement. He led a dual life for years, reminiscent of a cold war spy.
Now, with sponsors setting speed records as they run for the door, and with a family life in disarray, all manner of experts as well as water cooler shrinks suggest more talk and more therapy.
But visiting Oprah or Larry King is the last thing Woods needs. It will sell magazines and increase the ratings of Extra, TMZ, Inside Edition, and Oprah or Larry King.
But it won’t do anything for Tiger Woods.
The best thing Woods can do for himself is declare victory over his personal demons and play golf. Then he resumes his life while he and his family work through their, as yet, undecided futures.
By declaring victory, he would have a chance to become redeemed, a battle-worn, battle-scarred survivor. A variation of, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Who out there does not have personal demons of one kind or another?
Should Woods make return to golf sooner rather than later, he needs to find a friendly atmosphere because that first week he will suffer sideways glances from PGA Tour players in the locker room and on the practice range. He will endure steely-eyed stares from Tour wives and fiancées who pray that their men are not demon-struck.
He will also be grilled by members of the media, and he will have to deal with all that.
In Woods’ favor is that he was never chummy in the locker room or player dining. Also, it will be the golf media, not the tabloids, who are waiting.
Golf writers as a collective group don’t give a fig about Woods’ personal life unless it impacts his play. You want to confess juicy stuff, sure we’ll listen like anyone would, and yes it’s going to end up in the news, but we really don’t care. We would like to know how and why he double-bogeyed the driveway in November, just like we’d be curious about any bad shot.
Best place for his return: Bay Hill. He probably owes Arnold Palmer a favor anyway, because everyone in golf owes Mr. Palmer.
Would-be hecklers on site would be dealt with quickly and quietly by the security guards who travel with Woods’ group because that’s how things are handled in golf. And Palmer would most likely extend a hand to Woods when he came through the door, paving the way for others to do the same.
Once that first week is over—and it will be a difficult one—Woods can resume his tournament routine. As the weeks roll into months, the tension will disappear. It will be replaced by stunning shots, amazing victories, and more major championship victories.
For Woods, winning is the most important thing he can do. It replaces the bad headlines with good ones. It gets people watching the positive instead of the negative. And it is the only way he can get new sponsors to replace the ones he lost.
Woods can even be patient about signing new deals because with each victory that is not clouded by rumor or innuendo, he becomes more valuable. If he goes on to surpass Jack Nicklaus’s major championship record of 18, which many thought he would do this season, his ability to demand money for endorsements will actually increase. He may double, triple, or quadruple his previous asking prices. Really.
Whatever happens with his personal life happens. Golf is not personal; it’s business.
And Tiger Woods needs to get back on course.