Disorderly Golf

February 19, 2010 11:19 AM

Tiger Talks

Tiger Woods during a news conference in, Friday, Feb. 19, 2010, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.jpg
What did we want from Tiger?  

Should anybody have to stand in public and dwell on his shortcomings like this?

Does he owe us an apology and an explanation?

Deserved or not, we got one today.

Tiger Woods spoke.  His statement was as pure a mea culpa as anyone could have asked for.  I am sorry, he said, repeatedly; I was wrong.  He said it to the collective world, to his family, to his employees, to the kids who have looked to him as a role model, to his business associates.

He acknowledged that he is embarrassed by his own behavior, that he has cheated on his wife and betrayed his family.  He said he has been in treatment, and will return to the rehab facility tomorrow.  He looked directly into the camera as he made his apology to the public that believed in him and was shocked and disappointed by his actions. He spared himself nothing, at one point patting his chest as he declared that no one was at fault but him.

His delivery was steady, his tone abashed and even humbled.  There were a few moments of spontaneous emotion, when his words quickened and came through with greater authenticity than the clearly scripted statement.  Those moments came when he expressed anger at the media scrutiny of his wife and children, and spoke forcefully regarding the stories that Elin had attacked him on the night of his car crash.  With barely suppressed fury, he told the world to leave his family alone.  

The most intriguing comments came when he said he had believed he was above the rules, that they didn't apply to him.  He says he understands that this is not so, and that he will redouble his efforts to treat the world and golf with integrity.  It will be interesting to see if this means he will follow the PGA Tour's guidelines on cooperation with the media in the future.  

We will see him on the golf course again.  When?  Even he doesn't know.  Maybe this year.  Maybe not.      The decision will be based on the progress he makes in getting his life in balance. Since late December, he's been in treatment and incommunicado.  He goes back tomorrow after a scheduled one-week break.  The end of formal treatment doesn't mean the end of the process.  He will return to the game when he and his wife determine the time is right; it will not be dictated by the golf calendar.  

He has talked often of the joy of being a father.  This is the first time I've heard him being a husband.  He praised Elin, defended her, said she'd acted with "grace and poise."  

It's easy to say this was a calculated public relations move, aimed at rehabilitating a shattered public image.  I agree its point was rehabilitation, but on a personal level.  Part of twelve-step recovery is acknowledging the harm you've done to others; in a life like Tiger's, this would means a public avowal in addition to private ones.  

Before dismissing it, ask yourself: If it were completely sincere, how would it differ from what he said?


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