Tiger Woods is not a saint. There, I said it. And the truth of the matter is, he never has been one. In 1997, the journalist Charles P. Pierce wrote an in-depth piece in Esquire on Tiger at the Mercedes Championships in La Costa, titled “The Man. Amen.” To sum it up, Pierce spends a day with Tiger, following him to a photo shoot and discovering what a day in the life of the soon to be most famous athlete in the world’s life entails. In short, Tiger, even at a mere 20 years old, told raunchy jokes, and possessed a suave, debonair air around the ladies. At one point, Tiger asked his limo driver, “What I can’t figure out, is why so many good-looking women hang around baseball and basketball. Is it because, you know, people always say that, like, black guys have big dicks?” Clearly, Tiger has long had more on his mind than just golf. Apparently, Tiger is addicted to sex, as his alleged stint a sex rehab facility in Mississippi and media reports indicate. Tiger Woods’s private life was the best kept secret in sports, and now that the cat is out of the bag, what will become of El Tigre?
Tiger Woods is a golfer – a professional athlete. Yes, the media branded Tiger as a true icon, a role model for children and men to look up to. But that doesn’t change the fact that Tiger is human, surrounded by temptation, and a very powerful man. And dealing with the constant spotlight and an inflated ego usually leads to a severe character flaw developing. Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley have insane gambling problems. Wilt Chamberlain was legendary for his forays with the ladies. John Daly’s life was straight out of a Hunter S. Thompson book. Nate Newton used to drive trucks filled with kilos of cocaine during the Cowboys dynasty. Professional athletes have gone to jail for trafficking cocaine, killing dogs and shooting themselves.
Tiger is no Pac Man Jones. He just liked to get jiggy wit it. Now, I understand that Tiger was the face of many, many worldwide products and we live in a different generation. But it was naïve for the public to actually believe that Tiger was as flawless as the Jonas Brothers. He was a product of a really good web of publicity; no one ever actually knew anything about Tiger based on his stoic interviews and intensity on the course. I have no problem with people rooting against Tiger or stating their dislike for him now, but it is also incredibly unfair in today’s TMZ-crazed and overly saturated, media-run society, that athletes are put on absurdly high pedestals so that we can revel in their falls. The President of the United States almost got impeached for his illicit behavior. The former governor of New Jersey had to resign because he was having an affair – with a man. Tiger Woods hasn’t ever impacted foreign affair or a state’s legal system. He has, however, given us some of the best moments in the history of sports.
And for all the scrutiny he has now justifiably subjected himself to, Tiger will overcome it all. Tiger’s golf game and career trajectory will not be affected by his personal issues, or by the countless books and stories his mistresses will put out. Will he come back and sweep the field at his first event? Probably not. But Tiger has proven time and time again that he is resilient, dedicated and ruthless. And now that he is spending less time in the sack, you can guarantee that Tiger is spending most of his time working on his other game – golf.
If nothing else, Tiger has proven that he doesn’t really care about anyone but Tiger. When some drunk schmohawk in the stands yells something like “That’s the best you could do?”, Tiger will not be listening. His eyes will be burning with the same desire he has always had since he could walk – to be the best golfer, and perhaps the best athlete of all time. And because of this, he will make doubly sure that he more than surpasses Jack Nicklaus in career major victories. He will make sure that Geoff Ogilvy eats his words.
In a couple of weeks, Tiger will hold a press conference, written by someone who used to work for George Bush, proclaiming his profound regret and talking about trying to overcome his serious addiction. Then, he will say that his comeback will begin with the Masters. And then he will finish in the top five. Tiger will win a major this year, and he will be the number one player in the world two years from now, when he will be playing in enough tournaments to qualify. And in 20 years, Tiger will be remembered for his work on the field, not in the hay. Because when it’s all said and done, Tiger’s still got the magic sticks.
Contact Barry Rothbard at [email protected]