Tiger's Love Affair with Fans Keeps Image Intact

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst IApril 7, 2010

AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 07:  Tiger Woods watches a shot during a practice round prior to the 2010 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 7, 2010 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

He arrived on time to Augusta National, at the beautiful scene of the most admirable golf course on a sunny afternoon, ready to contend and attempt to win his fifth Masters and aim closer to Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major titles. A few days ago he addressed reporters when he walked into the interview room, where they sat in a tight atmosphere.

It was a hectic scene as reporters were interrogating Tiger Woods, whose image and marriage are in tatters after his extramartial affairs. Not long ago he let down and misled an entire nation that believed he was not only the world’s greatest golfer, but the world’s greatest icon and a role model operating an educational center for promising children.

During a four-day honeymoon at Augusta National, a large number of fans—as well as journalist—will stare from the galleries, interested to see how ongoing distractions and martial issues affect his performance at the most influential golf tournament of all. Of late, there haven't been bitter or resentful supporters despising Woods for his notorious sex scandals.

As expected, the public reacted with warm receptions, thrilled about his return and gathering clear evidence that he’s the cause of the sport’s resurrection. Fans from all parts of the world became drawn to the sport because of Tiger; fascinated with Tiger’s fist-pump, animated postured, heart-stopping finishes, and impressive victories. All of his astounding milestones amplified the game’s attendance and his presence alone draws tremendous television ratings, enhancing the popularity of a dull event.

If his believability and credibility have dwindled, he’s still the center of attention. If he’s living a lie, Tiger still absorbs all the attention in this weekend’s festivities. He’s no different than previous athletes who committed transgressions and had dismantled images.

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It’s easy to postulate that Woods’ eminence has decreased in less than a year of infidelity. Not long ago he spoke publicly for the first time since his auto accident at a news conference, and most of the masses assumed that his comical and insincere speech was rehearsed to reassemble corporate sponsors and reaffirm a robust status.

For now, things might be irrelevant until he actually takes the course and tees off Thursday for the first time since a contemptible scandal. So he ventures in a four-day event, attempting to end a troubling mess and reduce all the negativity by being fitted for his fifth green jacket. He needs a win badly to mitigate the woes and idiocy that have smudged the one golfer the world truly admired before his hellish sins.

But the United States is truly a forgiven country. For instance, he smiled when an amiable crowd waved at him. In response, someone shouted “go Tiger,” and in return, he gestured thumbs-up. It’s good to know that he has a love connection with fans, not mistresses revealing shocking details to paralyze his reliability.

“I’m just trying to be more respectful of the game and acknowledge the fans,” Woods said. “I haven’t done that in the past few years, and that was wrong of me.”

He wants to act in a classier manner, limiting his unnecessary tantrums. Maybe he’ll think before flinging his iron stick or using profanity whenever he’s frustrated. For this weekend in particular Augusta National has beefed up security—in the event a mistress arrives? Oh, I don’t know.

His goal over the next four days is to win. That’s how he’ll revitalize his popularity and credibility. It has been discovered too often in the world of sports—from Kobe Bryant’s rape charges, to Michael Vick’s dogfighting ring, to Michel Jordan’s gambling addiction, and now to Tiger’s sex scandal—that winning resurrects popularity. For the first time since the scandal, he was greeted pleasantly by thousands; embraced for coming back recovering from a mental sickness that has put a legacy in shambles.

He just needs a win at a major to save his legacy, which has been tarnish by reports of all the affairs with strippers, porn stars, waitresses, and whoever else Tiger may have had sexual intercourse with. His name has recently been linked to further infamy as well. The apparent relationship with Dr. Anthony Galea, a Canadian who divulged that he used human growth hormone for more than 10 years, and who is currently being investigated for supplying unlawful drugs in Canada and the U.S., has left Woods' state of credibility in disarray.

He met with Galea, allegedly, when he tore his right Achilles’ tendon in December of 2008 while rehabilitating from reconstructive knee surgery.  Mark Steinberg, Woods’ agent, received a phone call from federal investigators about the alleged incident. But according to Mr. Woods he’s innocent.

“He did come to my house. He never gave me HGH or any PED’s," Woods said. “I’ve never taken that my entire life. I’ve never taken any illegal drug, ever, for that matter.”

There’s not enough evidence to take down Tiger in this one. So imagine if he wins the Masters, all of the mess that would be lessen as the masses move forward, embracing his artistry and performances on the greens. If he used performance enhancers, then his career could be in jeopardy. While he’s gradually receiving his endorsement deals back, he could lose each and every one for disgracing his integrity. But we may never know the truth, as we’re eager to move forward, putting a perplexing past to rest.

“So many fans have supported me over the years,” Woods said. “I just wanted to say thank you to them, especially going through all of this over the past few months. It really put things in perspective for me and how much I have appreciated—or underappreciated—the fans and the game of golf.”

He’s a changed man who is learning not to take things in life for granted and to appreciate life in general. He was surprised and relieved hearing the fans’ reactions, while he seeks redemption and a remedy for his horrible mistakes as a man.

“I didn’t know what to expect with regards to the reception, and I tell you what, the galleries couldn’t be nicer,” said Tiger. “I mean, it was just incredible”

I bet.

Now he just needs another win to add to his historic resume. But there’s no doubt, he’s golf’s beautiful landmark.

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