Saturday, March 27, 2010
Tiger Woods might be contrite, but he's not giving an inch
Writer's note: I promise this will be my last Tiger Woods column until, well, A) something happens on the golf course involving Tiger or B) he returns to his philandering ways, drives into another tree or has Roger Clemens inject HGH into his, well, you know.
Anyway, the point of this column is pretty simple — to state that while I believe Woods is genuinely contrite about his, ahem, misdeeds, he's still the same old Tiger. In other words, he's still controlling, still has a huge ego and still won't let himself be vulnerable.
All I need to know to form that opinion: The date of Woods' first open press conference since that disastrous Thanksgiving night for him: Monday, April 5. Sure, it's Masters week. So it makes sense, right? But, um, guess what else is happening that day and night?
Oh, just the college basketball national title game and the first full day of Major League Baseball. This is not to say — obvious statement of the column — that Woods' press conference will be blown off, although I'd be quite entertained by such a thing. No, it will still be televised live, tweeted live, tumbled live, Facebooked live, (insert new form of media) live.
But it won't get the same lasting, dissecting attention, the same let's-talk-about-what-Tiger-said-for-the-entire-day coverage on the radio and the tube that it would receive on just about any other spring day.
Well played, Tiger.
The bottom line is this — once Woods returns to the course, starts hitting 6-irons 230 yards to within 4 feet of the cup, begins dropping 53-footers, the public and the media will return to viewing him as Tiger the Golfer. Sure, such thoughts will always be accompanied by "Let's remember, Tiger is not a saint" tangents within the brain — that's just the way our minds work; we can't block out a huge aspect of a person's life when thinking of them — but we'll primarily worry about what he's doing on the fairways and greens.
And there's nothing wrong with that. Heck, that's what we've always watched Woods for, admired him for, been awed by. We've thought he was a good family man and a good person in addition to his World's Greatest Golfer tag. But did we really care? Nope, it's always been about the golf.
Which is why Woods can't wait for April 5 to be over and then for April 8, when he'll take his first swing of his first tournament post-life-changing-train-wreck. Obviously, there'll be plenty of questions that first tournament or two about the whole scandal, but they'll be more about how it has affected Woods and his golf game.
Then by the U.S. Open, it'll all be transported to the back of reporters' question queues, and the main question will return to: When (and if) will Tiger surpass Jack Nicklaus' 18 majors?
Woods has always manipulated the media, never given more than he wanted, always controlled press conferences. Don't expect that to change. He gave two five-minute exclusives last weekend, but don't think that any of the questions caught him off guard, that he wasn't completely prepared for each segment. He, like Kobe Bryant, will do as good a job as possible at repairing his image, regaining endorsements and becoming, once again, the greatest golfer on earth.
No, we'll never forget his infidelities — emphasis on the plural. And no, Woods should never be seen, again, as a saint or even be labeled a "good guy."
But he remains one of the most powerful athletes in the world, not to mention one of the most controlling athletes. That hasn't changed and never will. And Woods will likely retake his throne atop the golf world, much to the masses' delight, returning us all to a normalcy we're comfortable with.
When Tiger the Golfer is the only Tiger in our minds.