March 21, 2010
In 1996, my dad pulled me aside and wanted me to watch something. It was a golf match, something I was as interested in as any other 6th grade kid. "Golf? Seriously?"
I was more of a football, baseball, basketball kid and thought golf was as interesting as watching two wheel-chair bound 90-year-olds battle each other on a chess board. I didn't care about golf.
But it was a kid named Tiger Woods and he was looking to do something that most didn't think was possible - win three U.S. Amateurs in a row after winning three U.S. Junior Amateurs in a row. He wasn't playing golf, he was beating the hell out of it. I watched as Tiger pulled off an extra hole win against a guy we'd never hear from again, Steve Scott, and unlike most adolescents, agreed with my dad on something -- this kid was cool.
You know his path after that. He made Augusta National look like a muni in 1997. He torched Sergio Garcia for his second major in 1999. The 2000s happened. He was flashy, dominant and different, all the ingredients needed to be superduper famous.
It was easy to like Tiger Woods.
But that isn't at all what we get now. The way Tiger has handled everything since the car crash on Thanksgiving and all the news that has leaked has been one thing: an absolute joke.
Do I care that he cheated and did all those bad things? Honestly? Not really. He's a man in a situation that nobody can relate with. Girls tossing themselves at him left and right, something that had probably never happened to him before going pro. Tiger had always been a daddy's boy that played a non-cool sport and was always a little awkward for his own britches. (Need an example? Check the hat and shorts he sported when playing the U.S. Amateur at TPC Sawgrass.)
While I can't say that I approve of his actions, I at least understand them. If I was in that position, with endless females taking the opposite approach most men deal with on the weekends, I'm sure I would have slipped as well.
What bothers me is what Tiger has tried to make us believe. His statement on February 19? An absolute embarrassment. He might as well had the South Park guys just draw up a skit (which they eventually did) with cartoons saying what he wanted to say. He was about as genuine as I am suited for heart surgery.
The interviews he gave both ESPN and The Golf Channel on Sunday were more of the same. Sure, he answered questions, but five minutes? You can't get anything worthwhile in five minutes. It put the interviewers in a tough spot. Ask pointed questions since you have an incredible opportunity but make sure not to dwell too long on one point since the clock is ticking.
He told us he was disappointed, but we knew that. He said Elin was mad at him, but anyone with a tap-in putt worth of brains knows that. He said he went away from his core values and yes, you guessed it, we knew that.
He didn't tell us what the heck happened on Thanksgiving night (that's personal information). He didn't let us in on what exactly he is doing with himself at these clinics (again, personal information). He won't answer a question that people don't already know (bingo, personal information).
Tiger can do whatever he wants. He is a famous golfer, but he doesn't have to be our buddy or colleague or friend. What he doesn't need to do is trick the world into thinking he is actually going to tell what went on, when he knows (and his camp knows) that will not be the case.
If Tiger has proved one thing over these past few months, it's this -- he gets how to draw a 4-iron to a back left pin, and how to drop in a clutch 18-footer to force a playoff but he sure as hell doesn't get how to talk to people and be sincere.
He didn't do that in his marriage, and still hasn't done that to the rest of us. He's a great golfer, and I'm sure at one point he will be standing over a putt to win a British Open and I'll get goosebumps like I did back in 1996 when I was a clueless kid. But I know that no matter his age or the situation, whatever Tiger says will be exactly what you expect him to say.
His schtick is played out, weak and a waste of our time. The next press conference he hosts will be viewed by one less guy. If you want to skip it as well, just imagine what a robot might say, and you'll be pretty darn close.