On Monday, Tiger Woods won his third tournament of the season, eighth at Bay Hill, and
the 77th of his career. As soon as he tapped in on 18 for his two-shot victory, just about
everybody said, "Tiger's Back!" as if he really went anywhere. After all, Tiger has won
six times in his last 18 starts which is close to mind-boggling, considering some players
never win that many times in their entire careers.
With his victory, Tiger also reclaimed the number one ranking in the world, which every
player on tour has known for quite some time, despite what the computers spit out. But just
where does Tiger rank in the court of public opinion now? Can he now be forgiven for being
a serial cheater, smashing his made-for-the world, squeaky-clean image that he and his posse
of super agents carefully cultivated? Does it even matter?
There is a little question that Tiger Woods is great for the game of golf. He is a rating PED for
the television networks. We can only watch Phil, Bubba, Rory, and Sergio for so long before
flipping over to Bravo, Spike, or TNT because yes, they do know drama and provide a helluva
lot more of it than the aforementioned crew. Every player on tour should thank Tiger for
supersizing the purses and making them that much richer.
Tiger is one of the few real athletes on tour, superbly conditioned and dressed to the nine's.
There are some people, men included, who just turn on the television just to see what he is
wearing.He is a magnet that most viewers can't take their eyes off of. But there is always going
to be that but. Yeah, he's a great player, but he is a dirtbag and fill in the blank with any other adjective to describe what he did to his wife, Elin, and two children for the entire world to see.
Is there a shelf life on holding that against him? Should he ever be forgiven? In a world where
a lot of people are given second chances, should Tiger get a mulligan, too? To many people,
the answer is an emphatic no. People are going to hate just to hate. Many enjoyed seeing a guy
who had it all, come crashing down like Humpty Dumpty. It doesn't matter who you are or
what you do, there are always going to be haters and detractors just because.
After Tiger won the Masters for the first time, I was getting reaction from the African-American
community in Fort Myers where I was working there at the time. I asked one kid, who was about
15-years old what he thought about Tiger Woods and his victory in the Masters, and without hesitation, he looked into the camera and said, "F&*k Tiger Woods." OK, then. Moving right along.
When Tiger cheated on his wife with the pin-ups, porn stars, and playmates, a lot of people pretty
much had the same reaction as that kid in Fort Myers. Tiger's popularity plummeted a lot further
than his game. His sponsors fled like ants who just had their hill doused with gasoline. It became
open season on Tiger Woods, with fellow golfers criticizing him, comedians mocking him, and
"SNL" using his scandal incessantly to lampoon him. His game self-destructed before our very
eyes and many thought his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' record for majors end after he barreled
down his driveway in an ambien-fueled haze and hit the fire hydrant, causing the tsunami of
sordid details of his infidelity to come gushing out.
Seriously, though, why were some people so obsessed with Tiger's private life? Shouldn't we
have separated his personal life and professional life? Are we so perfect in our lives, that we
must judge the immoral behavior of others? Mickey Mantle was a womanizer. So was Joe Namath.
So were/are many other athletes. I'm not saying it's right, but nobody has ever suffered the
criticism, scorn, and ridicule that Tiger did.
Tiger has picked up the pieces and is now close to whole again. He has a new girlfriend
in Lindsey Vonn and the number one world ranking. There are many who feel that Tiger won't
be all the way back until he wins a major for the first time in five years. Everybody is entitled
to their opinion.
However, there is something admirable about Tiger's comeback. He was a broken man after
his scandal. There was self-doubt, self-evaluation, and I'm sure, some self-loathing. Tiger had
to be wondering just how stupid he was to have thrown everything away, and for what? I'm sorry,
but there is nothing in the world worth blowing up for your marriage, your image, and your
legacy for. Nothing. Certainly not a one-nighter with a porn-actress nobody even knows.
To some, Tiger might not be all the way back. To others, he will always be the philandering
husband who felt "entitled" to do what he did to Elin. Others, will see his comeback and
new pursuit of history as spectacular. There will be a lot of different opinions about Tiger
Woods, that's for sure.
This much is certain, though, what he's doing on the golf course, is pretty spectacular
and you can't deny that fact whether you like him or not.