For Tiger, games are over
Editor’s note: Robert Lusetich covered Tiger Woods this season
for FOXSports.com. His assignment afforded him an insider’s look at
the Woods phenomenon, and his observations will be further
chronicled in an upcoming book to be released in April by Atria
Since Tiger Woods was but a cub of a boy, golf’s always meant
more to him than anything else.
A few weeks shy of his 34th birthday, golf’s Peter Pan has
finally grown up.
By announcing that he’s taking an extended leave of absence from
that which has meant so much and provided him with even more, Woods
is acknowledging, maybe for the first time, that golf’s just a
A wondrous and alluring one, to be sure, but in the end, coaxing
a little white ball into a hole is far from the most important
thing in life.
It’s a lesson most of us learn in disappointment when the time
comes to apply for a job and finally let go of those childhood
dreams. Tiger’s had to learn it in a much uglier way and I’m not
sure which of us, in the end, has been luckier.
He’s a proud man and I’m sure he’d be willing to trade many,
many of his dollars in order to erase the ridicule and humiliation
he’s suffered through over the past fortnight.
Golf’s going to miss him only in days ending in ‘y’ but he will
be back, whether it be at Torrey Pines for the San Diego Open in
six weeks or for the Masters in April. In the meantime, with the
star on hiatus, we’re going to have to content ourselves with the
understudies as they try to keep the show going.
Not a particularly heartening scenario, I know —
especially given the disaster that was the Tiger-less second half
of 2008 — but Woods has a marriage to save, a family to try
to keep together and a soul that needs healing.
In other words, his priorities are no longer those of an
Friday’s mea culpa statement on his Web site — I don’t
know about you but I’d still prefer to watch him speak those words,
which would only amplify the humanity in them — gives great
hope that the salvaging of the Woods family has begun.
It’s heartening, for me, to learn that it’s even possible.
I was far from convinced that Elin would be even willing to take
him back. As hard as this has been on him, I can’t imagine what
it’s been like to listen to women with very little going for them
tell of not just sex but sharing intimacies with her husband.
The sex, in a sense, could be excused as a physical need, but
what a betrayal it is to learn that your husband was cuddling with
another woman in your matrimonial bed while watching a movie.
It’s heartening, too, that Woods is no longer hiding behind
cold, lawyerly words like “transgressions” but for the first time
admits to “my infidelity.”
Personally, I would have gone with the plural given the
procession of women crawling out from beneath the sheets, but
that’s splitting hairs.
The overarching point is that Tiger Woods is finally taking full
responsibility for his own actions, which is all any of us could
ask of another human being.
And, really, it’s the only way to forgiveness, which I think is
what Woods ultimately seeks.
“I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father
and person,” Woods wrote.
That last part is for us, his public.
The Tiger Woods we’ve all known for the past 13 years, ever
since he introduced himself with that mesmerizing, Hello, world,
commercial has gone.
If he ever existed.
In that sense, the upheaval of the past two weeks may prove to
be a blessing.
Woods will no longer need to project himself as perfect because
we all know now in far too much detail that he’s not.
And the paranoid handlers around him won’t need to act like
there’s a Machiavellian cabal lurking around every corner to expose
Of course, it’s not all going to be a bed of roses because at
some point, Woods will make his return to competitive golf and, for
the first time, we’ll be watching him more than his golf ball.
He’ll have to deal with questions and they’ll be difficult. He’s
also going to have to deal with the fact that he may no longer be
the crowd favorite. Not everyone will be willing to forgive him his
Be sure, it’s going to be a long journey back for Tiger Woods,
not just back to golf but back as a husband and a father.
A long road but shorter now that he’s taken the first step.