Tiger: Nobody To Blame But Himself

Steve Murray
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Wednesday - December 09, 2009
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Wife Elin and daughter Sam were with Tiger Woods on the sidelines Nov. 21 when he served as honorary captain for Stanford against Cal.

Yep, we’re talking Tiger. But first, a moment of congratulations.

A big Bravo Zulu - that’s a naval term for a job well done - to the University of Hawaii for its pre-game and half-time celebrations honoring Hawaii’s servicemen and women during its annual Military Night. The checks to the spouses from the Honolulu Navy League, the vocal performance of Staff Sgt. Samuel Hesch, the inspiring words of Adm. Robert Willard and the recognition for a job well done to all of our military were all a first-class effort for which the university should be congratulated.

The Midshipmen were impressive entering the stadium under the Stars and Stripes, and the game itself was thrilling. Applause also must be extended to the 35,000-plus fans, who for one weekend retired the traditional boos normally reserved to visiting teams, and for their standing ovation during half-time. Congrats to all involved.

Now to the titillation. The news of Tiger Woods’ mid-speed car wreck and his subsequent half-admittance of adultery took millions by surprise. The questions is, why? Much like those who gasped in horror at the suggestion that a famous and much-admired musician could be addicted to drugs and eventually die from their use when history has offered countless examples of just such endings, those who put Woods on an unreachable pedestal of perfection were similarly naive.

Tiger Woods is more than an athlete - he’s a global brand and one of the most-recognized people on the planet. Rich beyond anyone’s wildest dreams, he has been fawned over since he introduced himself to the world and quickly became an industry unto himself.

With such wealth and fame comes power and the expectation of unhampered access to all of life’s vices - the biggest of which, for male athletes, is women. And there is no shortage of willing cohorts to fulfill such demands.

Woods is not just the world’s most famous athlete, he also is its most pampered. He lives in a self-created universe of absolute secrecy, where his opinion is law and where even the slightest step outside the party line means immediate and likely lifetime banishment. So huge is his impact and so large his ability to sell magazines that, according to the New York Post, the National Enquirer killed a story about his extramarital escapades in 2007 in exchange for a cover story on Woods in Men’s Fitness, which is owned by the same company.

So while no one should be shocked by his transgressions, missing the evidence is understandable.

Woods has a near-phobic need for secrecy. He isn’t just private, he guards every element of his life as if national security depended on it. Anyone privy to the secret was not about to talk. That’s just part of the code. Woods offers no opinions, gets in no scrapes and appeared to lead a most boring life. Until recently, every move was executed to perfection. But like all great plans, success and failure is often determined by unforeseen errors - like saved voicemail messages capable of bringing down an icon.

More shocking than the revelations was that Woods came relatively clean rather quickly. His carefully coded apology was typical of the circumstances, and he fell back on the tried and true, telling visitors to his Web site that he was, in fact, human, that he made a mistake, is heartbroken over the hurt he caused his family and is determined to work things out. He then, as also is typical, blamed the media for a problem that was his own making.

Once all the dust has settled and the lawyers paid, not much will change. An agreement will be signed and he’ll remain married. Come February, Woods will still be his sport’s biggest star, its best player and boast the highest “Q” rating of any athlete. His locker room popularity will remain - save one successful Swede who goes down in the record books as the only person to publicly criticize golf’s most powerful person.

Jesper Parnevik, who introduced his former nanny to his former friend, said, “I would be especially sad ... since me and my wife were at fault for hooking her (Elin) up with him. We probably thought he was a better guy than he is. I would probably need to apologize to her and hope she uses a driver next time instead of the 3-iron.”

Woods is correct that his alleged affairs are a personal issue and one that must be handled internally. But he also must admit that his transgressions are his fault alone, and it is because he demanded such deference that the fall must be greater.


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