Of all the phrases I've heard people say following Tigerpology 2010, this one is the most annoying. "Give him credit for standing up there and saying all that. It wasn't easy."
Yeah, it also wasn't an option.
He gets credit for it, like you get 200 points credit on the SAT for just signing your name.
Tiger said the least he possibly could, in the most chickenshit manner, to a comically staged room full of cronies - the commissioner included.
Forgive me for not welling up in tears like Charlie Rymer over that.
It was almost like a second car crash. Only this time, deliberate.
His robotic opus of therapy inspired talking points hit all the scripted notes. Some TV commentators insisted that he wrote the entire thing himself. This was a laughable assertion that was both unknowable and pointless even if true. For a guy with a team of advisers ballsy enough to dictate terms like this for an apology, to think they didn't at least poke their nose a bit into the script proves that gullibility is a chronic condition.
Was it sincere? Is he a changed man? Will a better Tiger emerge? Draw your own conclusions and have fun. They aren't really relevant to what will happen next. It's not like he had been suspended from the PGA Tour until he said he was sorry to the Commissioner at Tour HQ and really meant it. Tiger is basically locking his golf clubs in the trunk in an act of contrition, love, and recovery in order to save his marriage, his kids, and something north of $300 million.
Timetable on how long that's gonna take? Ha. Pick a date and tournament. It'll be the hot office pool of the summer. As soon as he uttered the line about how he would "return to golf ONE day" I think I heard Finchem's tongue get lodged in his esophagus. Don't think for a minute that Tiger doesn't just love the suspended financial agony he's putting the Tour through. Brett Favre ain't got nothing on him.
Yet for all the scoring elements of his scripted mea culpa, he committed more than one tactical error.
The largest, I think, is a trap he has now baited and set regarding the facts of "Zero Hour" of this entire crisis. The whole thing started with every sports fan in America hearing one way or another: "Tiger Woods has been in a car crash, and taken to the hospital."
By angrily disputing some of the more salaciously speculated accounts of that crash - accounts that grew like mold in the musty tabloid vacuum that he himself created by going underground for almost 3 months - Woods made it relevant again.
He has now - in essence - necessitated a plausible accounting of the crash in his own words. It is not enough to just say: "I'm not discussing that. It's between me and Elin." It is not enough to just say: "The police have closed their case."
"Some people have speculated that Elin somehow hurt or attacked me on Thanksgiving night. It angers me that people would fabricate a story like that. Elin never hit me that night or any other night. There has never been an episode of domestic violence in our marriage, ever. Elin has shown enormous grace and poise throughout this ordeal. Elin deserves praise, not blame."
As Bill Simmons points out with lazer like clarity on the matter:
To be fair, Tiger, you crashed your car while leaving your house at 2:30 a.m., you weren't wearing shoes, your neighbors found you asleep on the sidewalk and your wife holding a golf club, the back windows of your cars were smashed in, the accident wasn't reported for 12 hours, and then you disappeared for 10 weeks. You never told us what happened. You got terrible advice from your advisors and opened the door for people to imagine crazy scenarios for what happened that night. Don't blame us.
And if I may add, when you say that false stories like that "anger" you, then it only follows that you would set the record straight. I'll take Woods at his word, even if he's lying. I understand that any admission of Elin's rage would not only add to her hurt, but also put her in possible (though not likely) legal jeopardy. But if so, he'll need to replace that larger, possibly wife protecting lie, with a knockoff handbag of a lie. "We argued a bit, I went out to blow off steam, dropped my cell phone on the floor, went to reach for it, and then BAM!"
There. Fine. Wrap it up, I'll take it.
Otherwise, he's just a big fucking liar, in which he deserves nobody's respect whatsoever. Or there's still stuff he wants to hide. Like perhaps a drinking and/or prescription drug abuse issue.
If I were a golf writer covering the Tour, getting to the Zero Hour facts is precisely where I would start whether Tiger likes it or not. Because hard as it may be for him to understand, more than a few journalists still care about pursuing and reporting the truth, especially when they themselves or others have grossly misrepresented the facts. If the "Elin The 9-Iron Wielding Window Smashing Maniac" narrative was indeed wildly unfounded for reasons still untold, then let's do our part to bury that once and for all.
There will be plenty more questions coming his way, ones that he will probably think deserve to remain off limits. Sample questions might include....
Q: You were injured in that car crash. How much of it do you remember, and did you fear for your life or golf career at any point?
Q: What kind of surgery - if any - did this accident require?
Q: If this rehab journey is going to take a long time, months, years and beyond, then why can't you return to work, your career, in a reasonable amount of time, WHILE you are continuing to change your life for the better off the course and repair your marriage?
Q: Are you disappointed with any of your sponsors who dropped you?
Q: Have you added any new people to your management team, or dropped anybody in the wake of this?
Q: Do you plan to apologize directly to fellow tour players in person about the damage your actions have cause the Tour, or the questions they have had to answer about you?
Q: Will you become more fan friendly once you return as part of your rehabilitation?
Q: Why didn't you do more to avoid holding this press conference during a live tournament day? Explain more clearly why your schedule demanded this?
I'd also love to know if he plans to start openly quoting Buddhist scripture after every win. The Suvarnaprabhasa Sutra is also known as the "Golden Light Sutra" and is central to the confession of faults.
One Japanese Buddhist proverb puts it simply: bonna kunu.
Or in other words, "all lust is grief."