So this is how Tiger will play it: what a disgraced president's men used to call "the limited-hang-out route." Five minutes here, five minutes there, no questions answered that he doesn't want to answer -- though by all means, feel free to ask. (That way you can trumpet your "exclusive" as being without preconditions.)
He gave brief interviews to ESPN's Tom Rinaldi and GolfChannel's Kelly Tilghman (guess he really wasn't bothered by her "lynch him" comment last year) on Sunday. He took responsibility for his actions, said he will be making amends for a long time if not the rest of his life, and declined to provide any details about either the Thanksgiving accident or the ailment for which he sought treatment. "It's all in the police report," he said about the accident, conveniently eliding the fact that he apparently never spoke to the Florida Highway Police. "Beyond that, everything's between Elin and myself and that's private."
To his credit, when Tilghman asked him about being the worldwide butt of jokes, he acknowledged, "It was hurtful, but you know what, I did it. I'm the one who did those things." He insisted no one in his circle knew anything about his infidelities, and if they did, "they would've stopped it... or tried to stop it but I kept it all to myself." This, too, is a dubious claim, though perhaps one based in good intentions, not wanting to point a finger at anyone else.
Each time we see Tiger in public, Brandel Chamblee said on GolfChannel, "a little air is let out of the balloon." There's still plenty of air there, but we're beginning to see his strategy for image-rehab: controlled conditions, prepared answers, no lengthy interrogations. He'll refuse to give details on the central issues, and eventually the questions will go away. Let out a little more air, but shine no light.
It'll probably work. Five minutes feels long on television, especially when ESPN has hardwired a short attention span into the American brain. He'll keep saying, "That's private," and the world that devoured what the tabloids were feeding it will soon wonder why these people keep hounding him with questions.
One disquieting element lurks at the end of the Rinaldi interview:
Rinaldi: I ask this question respectfully, but of course at a distance from your family life. When you look at it now, why did you get married?
Woods: Why? Because I loved her. I loved Elin with everything I have. And that's something that makes me feel even worse, that I did this to someone I loved so much.
In a novel or play, it would slowly dawn on him what tense he had used.