Woods might never be looked at the same
The passenger was waiting in a long line at Heathrow on Tuesday
when he came face-to-face with an Accenture advertisement on the
wall showing Tiger Woods walking through the tall grass with a club
in his hand.
The man stared for the longest time, then turned away and said
solemnly, “I can’t believe it.”
If this episode ever ends, if the key statistic associated with
Woods ever goes back to greens in regulation, one thing is becoming
No one will ever look at him the same.
Ask yourself this question: If you’ve seen Woods lately in the
U.S. PGA Tour’s commercial on charity, was it jarring?
Almost as shocking as the allegations of infidelity is the
swiftness of his fall. For 13 years on the U.S. PGA Tour – longer
if you go back to his six straight U.S. titles as an amateur –
Woods rarely was regarded as anything but an indomitable
Just like that, he has become the butt of jokes.
His colleagues, who once spoke about him with reverence, now
take pity. Even John Daly feels sorry for him.
Despite being among the most famous athletes in the world, we
knew so little about Woods. Now we know too much. Woods managed to
keep himself out of the tabloids for years only to be the cover boy
The big development on Tuesday featured yet another emergency
phone call, another ambulance inside the exclusive gated community
of Isleworth at an address everyone now knows. This time, it was to
take his mother-in-law, Barbro Holmberg, to the hospital for
stomach pains. She was released later Tuesday.
There’s no word when Woods might return. His caddie, Steve
Williams, told the New Zealand Herald over the weekend that he
expected to be back on the bag at the San Diego Open. That was
merely a comment to show he was standing by the boss. Not even his
caddie knows when Woods will be back in public.
The last tournament Woods played spoke to his iconic status
around the world. He won the Australian Masters before enormous
crowds, with so much foot traffic that it kicked up dust from the
sandbelt course and caused Woods to wipe the grime from his
The woman keeping score on the last day at Kingston Heath
whispered to the teenager carrying the scoreboard, “This is the
holy grail in golf.” Given the publicity and the amount of
allegations, does she still feel that way?
Until this salacious saga began on Nov. 27 with a car accident
outside his home, few embarrassing moments for Woods made
GQ magazine caught him telling racial jokes while riding in a
limousine. His father once called him the “Chosen One” and said
he would do more than anyone to change the course of humanity. A
boom mike on the 18th hole at Pebble Beach picked up an
obscenity-laced tirade when he hit a tee shot into the ocean. Woods
threw a club that bounced into the gallery in Australia.
This is what used to pass as a scandal for Woods.
He has been the subject of TV show host David Letterman’s “Top
10” list twice in the last four months. The first occasion was in
August after Y.E. Yang beat him on the final day in the U.S. PGA
Championship. Back then, the unflattering moment for Woods was
about his golf, not his life. Among the top 10 excuses why Woods
lost: “Would you practice if you had a hot, Swedish wife?”
Letterman poked fun at Woods again on Monday with the top 10
ways how Woods can improve his image. On the list were safely
landing a golf cart in the Hudson River, fixing the health-care
mess, and crashing a state dinner at the White House.
Even that might not be enough.
Woods is not the first athlete to be dragged down by what he
referred to as “personal failings.” It’s just that few other
examples came as such as a shock, even to some of those who are
closest to him.
Still to be determined is whether so much calamity off the
course will affect Woods inside the ropes.
The 33-year-old Woods most likely is just now coming into the
prime of his career, already having won 14 majors in pursuit of the
record 18 won by Jack Nicklaus. Next year would seem to be the
ideal time to make up ground, with the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach
and the British Open at St. Andrews.
Accenture, meanwhile, continues to feature Woods on the home
page of its Web site. He is standing in the desert rough,
surrounded by cactus plants, trying to figure out his next move.
“Opportunity isn’t always obvious,” the headline says.
Now more than ever.