August 03, 2011
They showed up at each other's tournaments, texted congratulatory messages and had a good-natured rivalry about who would win the most majors. What had first been a glorified photo op for two of IMG and Nike's biggest stars had blossomed into a friendship. Now, Roger Federer and Tiger Woods are no longer pals.
As Jon Wertheim details in this week's Sports Illustrated, Federer has distanced himself from Woods after Tiger's infamous Thanksgiving night incident in 2009. Though both men have been careful not to play up any rift, there has been a noticeable chill. Wertheim notes that Federer and his wife have socialized with Tiger's ex-wife, Elin Nordegren, and compares the freeze-out to what Barack Obama did to Jeremiah Wright during the 2008 presidential campaign.
The relationship felt forced from the outset. Whether that was because it was a friendship for the media's benefit or simply because Federer and Tiger have robotic public personas and are tough to get a read on is anyone's guess. I'd guess it was the former. The bond of being the best in their respective sports and wearing a swoosh on their shirts gave the two some common ground. Other than that, what did they really have in common?
Tiger was a womanizer. Federer seems to be a dedicated family man. One lived in Florida, the other in Switzerland. Maybe they were friends by the loose, superficial Hollywood definition of friendship, but I doubt Tiger was popping over to Roger's house on Sunday night to throw back some beers and watch "Entourage."
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