What was the story with Tiger's Buddhism bracelet?

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At the end of Sunday night's Golf Channel interview with Tiger Woods, interviewer Kelly Tilghman made note of the bracelet Woods wore on his left wrist. From the official transcript:

KT: I noticed you're wearing a bracelet, can we see it?
TW: Yeah.

KT: What does it mean?
TW: It's Buddhist, it's for protection and strength and I certainly need that.

KT: When did you start wearing it?
TW: Before I went into treatment.

KT: Will you be wearing it during the Masters?
TW: Absolutely.

KT: For the rest of your life?
TW: Absolutely.

(View the interview in its entirety here at The Golf Channel.)

The bracelet itself isn't the big deal; you can pick one of those up at the mall for five bucks (Amazon has hundreds of "Buddhist bracelets" for those who want to be like Tiger.) It's what the bracelet represents -- the idea of remembering one's "core values" -- that makes it significant.

Certainly, it's not uncommon for people embroiled in scandal to suddenly wrap themselves in religion as a way of deflecting criticism. Prisoners and politicians alike often turn to religion when their worldly deeds come crashing down around them. So it's understandable to view Woods' embracing of Buddhism, Sunday and at his Feb. 19 press conference, as a cynical ploy for sympathy.

Thing is, Woods publicly professed his connection to Buddhism long before the scandal broke. In a May 2008 Reuters interview shortly after the birth of his second child, Woods noted that he adhered to tenets of Buddhism such as meditation:

"I practice meditation -- that is something that I do, that my mum [sic] taught me over the years. We also have a thing we do every year, where we go to temple together," he said. "In the Buddhist religion you have to work for it yourself, internally, in order to achieve anything in life and set up the next life. It is all about what you do and you get out of it what you put into it. So you are going to have to work your butt off in every aspect of your life."

And as he admitted Sunday, he's got plenty of work ahead.

Also, the conspiracy-minded -- or those with too much time on their hands -- will note that Woods doesn't have a wedding ring on, and will surely scream that it's the sign of marital apocalypse. Not so, at least not based on that alone. Tiger never wears his wedding ring on the golf course, and as the photo at right shows, he apparently doesn't wear it when he's out with his family, either.

That photo is from last year's Cal-Stanford game, taken just days before the news of his initial affair broke. Tiger got roundly booed at that game, but it was because he was a Stanford alum, not for any other reason. No, the really bad news for Tiger was still a few days away. Hopefully, for the sake of his family and his golf game, the worst days are now behind him.

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