Millions of words have been written about Tiger Woods over the past 18 days. And billions more will be expended in the time to come.
Here I will share five things that I know about the man and the saga that is unfolding:
1. Tiger’s life, as it relates to the press and, more specifically, the tabloids and paparazzi, is forever altered. He will be shadowed, stalked, followed and hounded for at least the next decade.
2. What’s more shocking than the revelation of his infidelities is that he kept it under wraps for so long.
And what’s even more shocking than that is he thought he could keep it all bottled up forever, particularly since it’s looking more and more like he did not confine his extramarital activities to only one woman (to say the least).
3. Amid all the PR counsel flying about, the most important piece is this: Tiger shouldn’t lie to the media. So rather than commit that offense, he has circled the wagons and communicated only through written statements.
Insufficient to satisfy the media wolves? You bet.
But at least he hasn’t compounded his mounting PR problems (to say nothing of his other woes, marital and otherwise) with outright lies. Half-truths and veiled language, perhaps, but that’s to be expected when you’re between a rock and a hard place.
4. This story in GQ, written in 1997 by Charles P. Pierce, explains much that the world either didn’t realize, or chose to overlook, about Tiger.
5. I bet Tiger wishes he could turn the clock back to, oh, July 2000. That’s when Time magazine dispatched me to the Western Open to provide some background reporting in preparation for a cover story that staff writer Dan Goodgame penned later in the summer.
An excerpt from my reporting:
“Teen-age girls with two-inch thick heels. Pubescent boys seeking autographs and climbing up trees for a better view. Blue-collar, white-collar, tank-top and Izod—all bobbing heads, straining their calves as they go on tip-toes.
Some are golf aficionados, having grown up in the sport with Arnold Palmer and, a short time later, Jack Nicklaus. Puffing on cigars, they frown in disdain when Johnny-come-lately fans move en masse because their favorite has sunk his putt, either not caring or not realizing that it’s a breach of etiquette when one or two others have yet to finish the hole.
Others barely know the legendary names of Palmer and Nicklaus, and just about none of the names or backgrounds of today’s top golfers. They seem oblivious to their faux pas, interested only in getting a good vantage point for the next hole.
This is the diverse face of Tigermania.”