Tiger Woods can go in either direction after public humiliation

podium

Tiger Woods leaves the podium after a 13-minute confessional, taking no questions. (Bloomberg photo)

We are used to witnessing confidence and cool. We are used to seeing Tiger Woods standing over a 12-foot putt, with several million people watching and several million dollars on the line, and calmly tapping a small white ball into a four-inch cup.

We are used to uncommon resolve: 14 victories in majors, the first at the Masters when he was 21, the last at the U.S. Open when he labored on a torn knee ligament and a double stress fracture in his tibia.

We saw none of that Friday. We saw a broken man. We saw flaws. It was uncomfortable. Woods, who used to own the room because he owned his sport and to a degree the celebrity landscape, read from a statement that he might’ve rehearsed 1,000 times. Still the words tumbled out of his mouth slowly like he was speaking a foreign language. In a sense, he was.

This is what happens when reality hits. We’ve seen it  before — weeping evangelists after sex scandals, fallen athletes after failed drug tests, Hollywood celebrities after DUIs. This was Tiger Woods off stage. It wasn’t pretty.

“I have a lot to atone for,” he said.

Tiger Woods' mother, Kultida, watched Tiger from the front row. The two embraced afterward. (AP photo)

Tiger Woods' mother, Kultida, watched his speech from the front row. The two embraced afterward. (AP photo)

What will public humiliation mean for his future? Possibly everything. Some boxers are never the same after they get knocked down for the first time. The air of invincibility is gone. We can’t be certain how Woods will be affected by the knowledge that he is no longer universally admired and revered.

What does it mean for his future? Possibly nothing. Great athletes operate with tunnel vision. Woods thrived, despite meteoric expectations and pressure, the death of his father, injuries, certainly multiple women texting his cell phone. The great ones are driven by failure and criticism and a doubting public.

But Woods said it himself: We judge by actions, not orchestrated press conferences. To predict what happens the next time Woods steps onto a golf course is futile.

We’ve come to expect greatness from Woods. If he entered and won the Masters in April, it wouldn’t be surprising. Why? Because it would be so Tiger. Because he’s that good. Because unlike a mountain of record holders in sports, Woods never cheated his game. He broke commandments.

He no longer has the perfect life. He is staple content on TMZ. Some 40 Stepford-looking supporters and a few hand-selected media members witnessed Woods’ statement in a room from the PGA Tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. But among the missing: his wife, Elin Nordegren.

“Every one of you has good reason to be critical of me,” Woods said in a 13-minute statement, with his mother, Kultida, watching from the front row. “I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior. I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. I am the only person to blame.”

A dozen women, from porn actresses to a coffee shop waitress, claim to have had affairs with Woods. Multiple reports said the news led to an argument between Woods and his wife, leading to him rushing out of his home Thanksgiving night and crashing his Escalade into a tree. Woods denied reports that Elin hit him with a golf club, although it was strange he actually made an issue of it Friday, saying: “There has never been an episode of domestic violence in our marriage. Elin has shown enormous grace and poise. Elin deserves praise, not blame.”

Question: Who was ever blaming her? And why even address allegations of performance-enhancing drugs, a story that has received little attention, on this day?

He admitted spending 45 days in rehab, and will return there soon (though for the record he never specified it was for a sex addiction, only “the issues I’m facing”).

“I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in,” he said. “I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply. I thought only about myself. I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled.”

When it was over, Woods and his mother, Kultida, embraced. “I’m so proud of you. Never think you stand alone,” she told him.

He is not alone. But he’s no longer on a pedestal either. Now we’ll learn how he reacts to that.

119 comments Add your comment

hop

February 19th, 2010
4:14 pm

bottom line jeff, it is none of your business and the press can go to hell!

todd grantham

February 19th, 2010
4:17 pm

Jeff, are we at the point we can say “all’s well that ends well”?

black sheep

February 19th, 2010
4:18 pm

black sheep

February 19th, 2010
4:23 pm

It’s not over by a long shot no matter how badly he wants it to be. He will be questioned by the press in conferences and by once fans on the golf course. How very scripted the tigger soliloquy was.

black sheep

February 19th, 2010
4:30 pm

I am still waiting for the golf writers and the PGA to rip him a new one for his actions on the course- his profanity, hitting the ground with his club, throwing his clubs, and his behavior in general. That does not even touch his boorish behavior when he loses. He will never be held in the same esteem that the past greats will be imo for those reasons as well as his off course behavior over the last many years-certainly before his marraige.

Cheata

February 19th, 2010
4:38 pm

Tiger has acted like a brat his entire golfing career – no different today. It has always been evident in his disrespect for the game, cursing, throwing clubs, evil looks, lack of access. Recently, law enforcement didn’t require his available blood to be evaluated at the hospital after his crash to test for alcohol. He doesn’t speak for three months then holds a closed press conference reading a scripted message someone else wrote for him. Obviously he is above the standard the rest of us are held to. You reap what you sow. He doesn’t deserve any special treatments and needs to step down from his throne. It should be fun to watch the upcoming episodes of Tiger vs. Cheetah.

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

February 19th, 2010
4:40 pm

10 bucks says he will pass the 18 majors win total within the next 4 years. As bad as he is as a husband, he has no peers on the golf course. What will become of the other tour players if he puts all of his “distractions” behind him and really focuses on his golf game? I get a feeling that once again they will be playing for a distant second place. Before he started his misadventures, he was darn near invincible, he will be so again. On the course, of course

Billy O

February 19th, 2010
4:49 pm

Everything Tiger said is probably true and I’m sure that he is truly sorry……sorry he got caught! As my wife said, “He’s a PIG”. I agree with Black Sheep, it’s not over. He should have taken questions to get it over with because the questions are still going to come. He is just the latest of the arrogant, rich athletes who have no morals and think they don’t have to answer to anyone.

clean up your yard

February 19th, 2010
5:05 pm

I would not walk across the pavement to meet him or see him play even if I had a free ticket. You just can’t buy class.

Paul H

February 19th, 2010
5:06 pm

To everyone who keeps saying he didn’t “owe” us anything – you’re wrong. When you making millions of dollars selling an image, and you betray that image and deceive the people who believed in you, you better believe you owe an apology and an explanation.

Tell It Like It Is

February 19th, 2010
5:10 pm

One thing is for sure. Tiger will bring his “A” game when he returns. Lets see who steps up to compete. The game will be on and happy days will be here again.

Jandrew

February 19th, 2010
5:12 pm

clean up your yard

February 19th, 2010
5:14 pm

Paul H Don’t try and confuse them with facts- they prefer to believe their fiction- kinda like Nascar.

clean up your yard

February 19th, 2010
5:15 pm

Ted Striker

February 19th, 2010
5:19 pm

Golf is for wussies. Give me a sport where people hit each other.

extremus

February 19th, 2010
5:21 pm

I never cease to be amazed at how much time and energy the public and especially the media spend in adoring athletes and celebrities, and just as easily turn on them like a ravenous pack of wolves when they do something stupid in their lives. Would we have heard all of this hoopla over Tiger Woods the past few months if he’d always had a reputation as a swinging ladies’ man? Of course not; he got singled out as much because of his clean-cut image as he did for being the best golfer in the world. We keep telling ourselves that greatness on the field, on the court, on the golf course deserves recognition and enshrinement in our Hall of Fames, and yet why is it that names like Pete Rose and Michael Vick will likely never be included in those hallowed halls? Because, though we don’t admit often enough, character matters in the equation. We want our kids to grow up emulating people of moral and ethical character, not talented but egocentric athletes.

So Tiger Woods sinned. Yes, he did. But the same goes for every single one of us, especially the ones in the media who tend to lift folks like Woods up to godhood status. I guess it makes sense from a psychological perspective that we like to make gods that are somehow like us, flawed and imperfect. It makes us feel somehow vindicated for our own transgressions when we see them inevitably fall. But beware any of you who would throw stones at Woods or anyone else caught in sin; as Clint Eastwood’s character stated in the movie Unforgiven, “We’ve all got it comin’”. The true God is watching each and every one of us, and our actions and thoughts are also being recorded for our terrible date at His podium.

Jamaaliver

February 19th, 2010
5:29 pm

How is this any different from what Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Jack Kennedy or so many other flawed ‘heroes’ did in their time. His biggest mistake was living in an age of gossip sites, paparazzi and twenty four hours news cycles.

He is as flawed as any other celebrity or sports hero. No more, no less.

Ned Striker

February 19th, 2010
6:01 pm

Ted, I’ve been on the course with you. Standing beside you on the fairway, there is a real chance of people getting hit.

Bob Horner stayed hurt

February 19th, 2010
6:05 pm

been watching the TV coverage all day…..I feel sorry for Tiger…look at the audience..he has no “lifelong friends..” there…no drinking buddies from Stanford..that is sad, IMO….Tiger is phoney…he’s plastic…dude has no heart….

Asheville Dawg

February 19th, 2010
6:06 pm

He is what he is, a mere mortal man. This really is between his spouse and himself. But it sure would be interesting to be the fly on that wall.

the real david baker

February 19th, 2010
6:08 pm

Gee, you think that Tom Watson is satisfied now?

the real david baker

February 19th, 2010
6:10 pm

And Johnny. Let’s hear from his saintness.

Bob Horner stayed hurt

February 19th, 2010
6:11 pm

What if Elin attended the speech…sat on the front row….and they hugged and cried in each others arms upon completion of his speech…..Would that have satisfied our zeal for Tiger’s demise..??

the real david baker

February 19th, 2010
6:13 pm

What about Ernie?
or Kenny?

WMD

February 19th, 2010
6:14 pm

It’s about his jerkness tigger not watson or any of the others- thanks for playing

Bob Horner stayed hurt

February 19th, 2010
6:16 pm

Ned…you made me LOL

Neda

February 19th, 2010
6:17 pm

Tiger has deep regrets, yes. Regrets that he got caught and will have to give up his partying and his whores.

I have no sympathy for an adulterer.

wxwax

February 19th, 2010
6:24 pm

Jeff, a number of people speculated about Woods using PED’s after the accident. I remember one particularly vicious piece of irresponsible speculation in the LA Times.

It was the kind of piling-on that happens when a celebrity falls. None of the writers ever presented any evidence, of course, beyond the weak connection to the busted Canadian doctor.

junebaby

February 19th, 2010
6:30 pm

i’d bet all of the so-called men on this blog calling for an apology from tiger, are having marital problems or relationship problems as they speak! i would suspect all of their significant others are cheating on them(or has cheated in the past), and they are clueless as to what to do about it, so they’re transferring their sissyness to tiger. then you have your flat-out racists like black sheep, and cheata, and others of that ilk. all of them have their own agendas to push. that’s why they’re so strident about an affair that they have nothing to do with, or that has harmed them in any way or shape. for those of you who say he’s let you down, you’re lying through your teeth, because you’ve never met the man and had no kind of relationship with him. and bloggers like black sheep and cheata peruse every internet article, so they can add their own special blend of seasoning. and lo and behold, along comes the ultimate race-baiter, “sgt shultz” to give them a forum. i know a lot of you won’t like what i wrote, but if you throw stones, you should expect to be stoned back! i suspect you should go home and get your own house in order. because why you’re crying wolf tears about tiger woods, jody may have your girl, and he’s in the process of tossin’ her up.

Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA

February 19th, 2010
6:44 pm

I still remember what Jack Nichlaus said, when asked if Tiger was the greatest golfer ever. You’d expect another icon in a sport to have mixed feelings about the guy who was being annointed to take Jack’s crown. Nichlaus didn’t sound envious, just pragmatic: “He’s single, wait till after he’s been married.” At the time, I thought it was a strange comment; Jack has what? 5 sons? I couldn’t figure out exactly what he meant, and why he’d say that as the factor that would affect Tiger the most.
Now, I wonder if Nichlaus knew what Tiger was really like.

WMD

February 19th, 2010
6:48 pm

junebaby I’ll bet you are a moron. Standing for the brotha are ya???

Bob Horner stayed hurt

February 19th, 2010
6:50 pm

Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA
…nobody knew “what Tiger was like”….he has more defense mechanisms than anyone……he’s not real…..

WMD

February 19th, 2010
6:51 pm

Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA I have no doubt that the players and writers alike have known what tigger was like and what he has been doing. I suspect that in the future he can no longer expect their silence. I suspect too he has been this way since before he hit the tour. An old friend was quoted as saying that he did not understand why tigger got married- that he was doing this for years before his marriage.

Tell It Like It Is

February 19th, 2010
7:15 pm

WMD

I assume that your blog handle is an acronym for “White Male Dummy”. You have all of the tell tale traits of a dummy.

Pluto

February 19th, 2010
7:17 pm

It was nothing more than a Pitch to his Sponsors and Potential Sponsors. The Media – devoid of Morals and Standards – will aid and abet his “Rebirth”.
As usual – funny how things change so little over time – The Mob will scream with Joy when he returns.
The Mob always does what it is told. It is conditioned by the Media.

junebaby

February 19th, 2010
7:18 pm

WMD

TELL IT LIKE IT IS…, said it all

Tell It Like It Is

February 19th, 2010
7:43 pm

Pluto,

Tiger has adopted the rules of engagement as dictated by capitalism. What’s wrong with that. It’s the American way. Are you saying that Americans have mob mentality? You sound like Ernie Els and some of the other European golfers who criticize him even though they have moved here to take advantage of the golf purses created by Tiger’s talent on the course.

NRBQ

February 19th, 2010
8:13 pm

True golf fans, which eliminates 99% of the responders here, know Tiger has unmatchable focus and heart on the course.

That hasn’t changed since he was hitting shots on TV at three years old, or winning World Juniors every year, or 5 consecutive National Amateur Championships when he was a skinny adolescent, or the record-breaking fashion in which he won his first Masters as a pro.

Kicking ass and taking names on the golf course is his milieu, and will be again. You internet haters will have to live with it.

Ken Stallings

February 19th, 2010
8:15 pm

As you said, Schultz, the path lies before him and he can easily choose either one. Staying faithful to your wife and family isn’t difficult. Most men and women live a lifetime doing it. The choice is wholly within the soul of the individual.

So, Woods can easily recover from this, stronger than ever frankly. It’s entirely likely his golf game suffered because of the destractions of his many affairs. Many suspected once married, he would settle down and become an even better golfer.

This really did not happen. Perhaps now we know the reason. I think as he said, he knew the sinful nature of his actions and I think it caused him problem with his golf game. Of course, the effect on his family is vastly more important.

I thought his apology was as good as it could be expected to be. I also believe that the apology is superflous. The actions define the man.

?

February 19th, 2010
8:22 pm

Who’s your Daddy.

?

February 19th, 2010
8:28 pm

"Chef" Tim Dix

February 19th, 2010
8:29 pm

Jeff, is being Tiger worse then being MV7 and if so why?

You have to be kidding.

February 19th, 2010
8:31 pm

Why would ANYONE even care what happens to this sob? The average man does not do what he did. He deserves no sympathy. I am totally through watching golf.

?

February 19th, 2010
8:33 pm

Tell it like it is….. golf has been around a lot longer than tiger woods.So has Ernie Eles.

"Chef" Tim Dix

February 19th, 2010
8:33 pm

And, why give “Denny’s waitress” a bad name? Why not a waitress?

Not to promote or disgrace “Denny’s”.

Mark

February 19th, 2010
9:06 pm

Ned that was hysterical!

Mark

February 19th, 2010
9:08 pm

Like I said yesterday, he’s only sorry he got caught. Telling us there was no violence. Yeah you just drive your car off the road in your neighborhood for no reason. Shucks, that happens to me at least once a month! What a liar. And to read the script. He had how much time to memorize it and speak from his heart. Forget you Tiger. I will never root for your sorry a__ again. Adios.

Jim

February 19th, 2010
9:15 pm

He’s always been a punk. He drops the fword when he hits a bad shot but of course they cut away from his tantrums on tv. Anybody who has been to a tournament knows he was never a role model.

beavis and butthead

February 19th, 2010
9:18 pm

Junebabe…go back to gammar schoooooooll Dig It???!!

Go West

February 19th, 2010
9:24 pm

I laugh at the people who say he loves his wife. Hahahah. Maybe and it’s a huge maybe if he messed around with ONE person you could say that. With 14 known and likely several others. Not a chance.