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Seriously, Tiger ... what were you thinking?
EDITOR'S NOTE: This column has been retrieved from our archives. It was originally published December 13, 2009.
How's this been as the mother of all wake-up calls?
I suppose it was always going to end in tears given what we now know, but what a bitter irony it must be that your bacon gets cooked by a voicemail plea to Jaimee Grubbs to save your bacon with Elin.
Not even Karl Rove could've conjured a plausible deniability after that Weapon of Mass Destruction hit the airwaves.
And it's not like you could've kept hiding behind polemics posted on your website about privacy.
No, you had to face the music, which is what I'm sure your team of advisors told you this morning, however reluctantly. You had no choice. And at the very least, it'd stop the procession of skanks coming out from under the sheets with stories to sell.
It's not like your mom — as much as I'm sure she'd be happy to try — could cut all of their tongues out, eh?
I'm sitting here in a state of quasi-shock, wondering how it all could've gone so pear-shaped.
You held the world in the palm of your hand, bud. And maybe that's the cautionary tale here. That old saw about the corruptive influence of power.
I know you've probably felt bulletproof for a long time — and maybe with good reason given everything you touch has a habit of turning to gold — but I can't get over just how arrogantly indiscriminate you were and how bad your judgment's been.
I know you well enough to know that you're a smart guy. I also know that you're inherently suspicious of people who you think might be looking to take advantage of you.
Your trust is notoriously hard to earn — Phil Mickelson's still trying — but yet somehow you thought this Vegas cocktail waitress you met when she was 21 and who appeared in something called "Tool Academy" — dude, "Tool Academy"! — was not going to sell you out?
As if there's any truth to that "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" cliche?
To throw back at you one of your favorite phrases, Dude ... seriously?
I suppose in the end, 13 years of being in the world's spotlight without having to deal with the uncomfortable intrusions of the paparazzi was a helluva winning streak.
In retrospect, it's amazing they left you alone given your fondness for party towns. But I'm here to tell you that those days are over. Outside of what happens with Elin — and that's between you and she — that's the price you're going to have to pay for these "transgressions," as you call them; you're going to be hounded by the paps from here to eternity.
I'm sure you're going to hear a lot from the sanctimonious and self-righteous in the coming days, though you're not getting any of that from me.
I've never looked at you as a role model.
You're a good guy — most people if they got to know you I feel sure would like you — and without question you're the greatest golfer I've ever seen and maybe even the greatest athlete, but I'm mature enough to set my own moral compass.
If I'm going to look to anyone, I'll choose my father, who was a good man, worked hard to provide for his family and, not to rub it in but here's the kicker, loved my mother dearly and would never have done a thing to hurt her.
Others, though, aren't as lucky and do look to you. You're a hero to a lot of people and you've let them down, bud.
Even worse, you've given ammunition to those who already hate you. Some of them are nothing more than bigots, but now they will be able to mask their true motivations by throwing this in your face.
It's a nightmare, my friend, but, as you're wont to say, it is what it is.
Rather than get stuck in the shame and regret of your transgressions, look at this as a turning point.
You have many laudable qualities as a human being, but I'm going to tell you that you're far too obstinate.
I say that because I know no one close to you would ever dream of telling you. They know that you don't have much tolerance for people who provide contrary advice. Hence, you are surrounded by yes men.
None of your inner sanctum — from Mark Steinberg, your agent, on down — will tell you "No" for fear of being discarded. And, let's face it, you are quite the gravy train.
Perhaps I'm being harsh, but you can't tell me that no one around you knew what you were getting up to with these women. I'm guessing, though, that none had the courage to tell you the bleeding obvious: that it was a train wreck waiting to happen.
That's not to excuse your behavior but it is to say that you're going to have to try harder at seeing the big picture. I'll pass on a piece of advice given to me by a sage a long time ago: the happiest lives are lived by those with the cleanest hands.
See you at Torrey Pines in January. If the harsh lessons of this year are learned, I think 2010 will be your greatest year.