November 23, 2010
Follow Shane Bacon on Twitter at @shanebacon.
Fight, fire hydrant, floodgates. That was the order of events for Tiger Woods at this time a year ago, when he went from "most popular athlete in the world that everyone knew nothing about" to "golfer that was hated by most, because he tricked us all into believing something he wasn't."
He ruined his reputation. He tarnished his legacy. He mutilated his marriage. But, what if all this ends up helping Tiger? What if that horrible Thanksgiving a season ago ends up being the best thing that ever happened to Mr. Woods?
You're probably shaking your head, and I can understand that. Nobody would ever look at events like this and think positive about them. Tiger went from beloved superstar to scumbag in a matter of one measly fire device, but look at what we're being told is going on.
Tiger speaks of being more at peace. He mentioned on Mike & Mike that he's not sure he'd be any different if all these facts didn't surface. He has mentioned he was confused, and frustrated and mad at the way he was acting. Is any of that true? Who knows, Tiger never really gives us a straight answer, but it does seem that these types of things come from the heart (and we're assuming in this paragraph that Woods does, in fact, have a heart). He says he's thankful for his kids, which I'm sure is true. He comments that he's still got the fire to take down Jack Nicklaus' major championship record, something he used to pin on his wall when he was a kid.
While 2010 wasn't really a good look at what the "new" Tiger could be (he was dealing with all of this, plus a divorce, and other personal stuff the entire season), 2011 might give us a better idea of exactly what this guy could be again, free from all the things that were floating in his head (and on his cell phone).
Since his knee surgery in 2008, Tiger hasn't won a major championship, and while it was easy to blame that on the injury before last Thanksgiving, it's easier to see now that maybe Tiger wasn't completely invested in these events like he used to be.
Now, am I naive enough to think that Tiger wasn't chasing women and texting multiple females at all times during his entire career? No, of course not. I'm sure as both a single and married man, Tiger spent a lot of his time balancing his "perfect" life with that other side, filled with porn stars and waitresses and whoever else made the cut.
But, free from that (and again, I'm assuming he isn't doing this as much anymore), maybe Tiger could be great again. Maybe 2011 is a year that Woods could approach with a free mind. Maybe that Buddhist bracelet thing he sold us on earlier this year could be true. Maybe he just needed to push all this behind him, move into a new home, get a new teacher, and re-create the talent we were used to seeing pre-Torrey Pines.
Or maybe not, but as a golf fan, I'm hopeful ... hopeful that the guy that we used to root for can once again be good at this sport, even if he can't be good at being a human. Does the Twitter campaign and the radio show appearances and the Newsweek article do anything to people that really follow this guy? No, we get that it's a PR push. But we can sit back, around a holiday set for thanks, and give thanks that at least Tiger is somewhat understanding what was missing for all these years.
If he changes it, we might see a different type of golfer next season. If not, we might be stuck with the watered-down version we got this season, and the PGA Tour, golf fans and sponsors alike don't want anything to do with that.