I had never before wanted to actively root against Tiger Woods, but he has now left me with no choice.
With his planned dog, pony, and tears show at Tour Headquarters on Friday, the Tiger Woods of Golf, has become the Tiger Woods of Douchebaggery.
Now every time a Rich Beem, Y.E. Yang, or Angel Cabrera pops up to thwart him in a major, it will be an episode of fist pumping joy for me on the couch.
Tiger Woods doesn't deserve our respect anymore. He did before the Thanksgiving accident. He did while he was dealing with the fallout. He did while he was going through rehab (allegedly). And I was prepared to give him that respect once he did come back.
But not now. Enough is enough. Not only hasn't he learned from any of this, but he's doubling down on petty and stupid. A presser that takes away thousands of column inches from the very Tour sponsor that was the first to drop him?
Coincidence, I'm sure.
This phony attempt to put things behind him is going to backfire, and backfire badly. For starters, his fellow Tour Pros are already blasting it.
“It’s selfish,” said Ernie Els, mincing no words. “You can write that. I feel sorry for the sponsor. Mondays are a good day to make statements, not Friday. This takes a lot away from the golf tournament.”
Secondly, you can't just say "no comment" forever. At some point, live people with real questions about all of this, will get within shouting distance of Woods and then the real game will begin.
Will Woods walk out of Tour press avails at the first non-golf question lobbed his way? Will the Tour start stripping credentials of writers and broadcasters who do not toe the line of "questions about club selection only, please."
To fully appreciate the arrogance of Team Tiger, soak in this statement from PR "guru" (sarcasm=on) Mark Steinberg.
Steinberg issued a press release noting that other reporters excluded from the session would be allowed to watch from a nearby room ... located a mile away at the Sawgrass Marriott. It read: "As a courtesy, there will be a room made available at a nearby conference center for credentialed reporters."
Heh. "As a courtesy..." Yeah. Thanks.
At this point, I know that some of you will say: "Hey Czabe, what do you think Tiger OWES to you, or anyone else in the media?"
Me? Nothing. And it's really not about the rest of the golf/sports media either.
Tiger owes it to the Tour. To his fellow pros. To the game of golf.
Tiger needs to understand that while his failings are personal, there is a seismic professional fallout at his workplace for those actions. He needs to "get it" that despite his off-course prowess (now mortally wounded) at making money, it remains the PGA Tour that provides the stage for his career and enormous wealth.
As such, it was, and is, incumbent upon Tiger to properly MITIGATE that damage professionally, and at the very least DO NOT MAKE IT WORSE!
Wow, has he failed miserably.
The first casualty is the Tour's Commissioner Tim Finchem, who allowed himself to be co-opted by Team Tiger in this farce. Maybe he had no choice. The Tour, minus Woods, is buried in an unplayable lie. Finchem knows this. But there are times for leadership and principle, and Finchem has now shown he has very little of either.
Tiger's camp says they "reached out" to The Tour in order to "assist with logistics" for this event.
Finchem should have said: "I'll give you the number for the Sheraton in Orlando. They have plenty of big ballrooms, perfect for holding a press conference." And then hung up.
Tiger's responsibility was to take the barrage of arrows from the media, like the hail of Persian arrows in the movie "300" that promised to "blot out the sun."
Replied Stelios, unflinching: "Then we will fight in the shade."
Tiger should have held an honest, open, "bring it on" presser at a neutral site. Hell, find a stadium if you need something bigger. Think Jerry World!
Tiger's problems, are all his own. Accordingly, he should have the class and consideration NOT to bring them to the office. By this selfish approach, he's doing just the opposite. He's practically inviting the media to try to get to him from inside the ropes on Tour.
His fellow pros, well, they'll just have to lump it. Sorry, chumps.
So now, it's on. I can root against Tiger on Sundays with full and un-conflicted gusto. May he never reach Jack's magic number of 18 majors.
I know this will likely be a fruitless exercise. With only 4 majors to go, Woods is a mere 35 years old come December. Given a solid decade left of his "prime", Jack's record should be a layup.
But at least Tiger has clarified where I stand, on him.
A selfish jerk, is just a selfish jerk. No matter how far he can hit a stinger 2-iron.
Congratulations, Eldrick. You've outdone yourself on this one.
PS: This shit, has got to stop too.