A revealing and guarded Tiger Woods

AUGUSTA, Ga. – The latest episode in the Tiger Woods soap opera went down Monday – a 35-minute pre-Masters press conference where Woods was both more revealing than we’ve seen and as guarded as ever.

Woods was in a jovial mood at times during his press conference at Augusta, but he likely wasn't aware plenty of fans spent the day telling each other Tiger jokes.
(Harry How/Getty Images)

He handled his first free-for-all questioning since his November car wreck turned sex scandal with confidence and aplomb. People’s base reaction will probably depend on the perception they brought to the table – for some it was more than enough, for others it was nothing but another performance by a known liar.

Whatever. For almost everyone, the Tiger Woods saga has been nothing more than comedic entertainment – a spectacular personal crash of a rich, famous guy who admits he lost touch with reality.

Who didn’t enjoy watching a near-billionaire who tips poorly and sells himself as a perfect family man get his comeuppance; especially when it’s replete with a cast of characters, allegations, wild text messages and panicked voice mails? What, you didn’t try to imitate his ”huge, quickly” voice on Jaimee Grubbs’ phone?

Tiger has provided plenty of fun on Sunday afternoons but our culture never enjoyed him more than the last five months of late-night stand-up material. Feel bad for his wife and kids, but don’t act like this is somehow actually important. Or you haven’t enjoyed this. We should be better than this, but we aren’t. Can anyone enter a Perkins again without making some Tiger crack?

Is he telling the truth now? Is he a changed man? You’d have to be a fool to say one way or the other. There were times Monday he showed both.

You could sense his pain when, unprompted, he discussed the misery of missing his son’s first birthday because he was in a rehabilitation clinic.

”That hurts,” Woods said. ”That hurts a lot. I vowed I would never miss another one after that. I can’t go back to where I was.”

Sitting 10 feet from him, he looked incredibly pained and sincere. Then again he compared this scandal to the death of his father in 2006 and the birth of his two children in 2007 and 2009.

”When I went through that period when my father was sick and my father passed away, it put things in perspective real quick,” he said. ”And when my kids were born, again, it put it in perspective. And then what I’ve done here, it puts it in perspective; it’s that it’s not about championships. It’s about how you live your life.”

Well, the first two “putting things in perspectives” didn’t change how he lived his life. So why would this one?

It doesn’t matter to me. And it shouldn’t to you. Whether Tiger spends his nights in solemn prayer or trying to wear someone out is irrelevant.

Woods owes his wife and kids an apology. He owes his mother an apology, mostly for humiliating her at that February speech. He owes various hotel housekeeping crews an apology for various ungodly acts.

Other than that, he’s given more than the media and public deserves. His question and answer session was just more of it, moving the story along so he can get back to playing golf. If you believe he’s all bad or all good, it says more about you than him.

Tiger’s confidence in answering certain questions often revealed more than the actual words. He had no fear in explaining, in detail, his relationship with Canadian doctor Anthony Galea who is under investigation for providing athletes with performance enhancing drugs. He launched into a 200-word answer and later handled follow-ups and said he was willing to cooperate with the FBI.

He came across as someone with nothing to hide.

On the other hand, he grew defiant and curt when pressed on the specifics of his November car wreck.

Did Ambien play a role in the car crash, he was asked at one point? ”You were described by the witnesses as mumbling, snoring, obviously sockless and according to the police hospital record, you were admitted as a possible overdose?”

”Well, the police investigated the accident and they cited me 166 bucks and it’s a closed case,” he said tightly.

So, yeah, it seems like Ambien may have played a role in the car crash.

If you were looking for the state of the Woods marriage, he didn’t reveal anything definitive, only saying sharply that Elin would not be in Augusta. Later he said convincingly, ”I want to be a part of my son’s life and my daughter’s life going forward.”

His wife’s life wasn’t mentioned.

He was asked how a champion known for his intense preparation and attention to detail could be so sloppy and reckless with all the text messages and voice mails. He could muster only an, ”I don’t know” before changing the subject.

For Woods, winning the press conference was accomplished by simply answering the questions. At this point, nothing worse can be said about him. As with any scandal, time has helped heal many wounds. He looked and sounded good.

The most telling development of Monday was that Tiger was fairly well received by the fans. There was a nervous silence at 8:05 a.m. when Woods hit the first tee, no one, including Woods, seemingly knowing what to say. By the second tee there was a smattering of polite applause. By the fourth hole it was what could be considered light cheers, albeit with many abstaining from showing any emotion. By the end, Woods was joking with some fans.

If he wins this weekend, the place will be pandemonium. If he shoots 15-over and misses the cut, almost everyone will laugh. That’s the life he’s made. All over the course Monday fans told Tiger jokes to each other.

”I’m not going to boo him but I’m not going to cheer him,” said fan Jim Clark, a 59-year-old from Shelbyville, Tenn.

That’s probably the best advice out there.

Cheer the athlete. Cheer the one-liners his affairs have provided us. Cheer the sheer entertainment.

Just don’t fall into a trap of hating Tiger Woods or unconditionally loving Tiger Woods. Or believing him. Or not believing him. We know more about Tiger now than we did a year ago. But no one knows what the next episode of this soap opera will bring. By: Dan Wetzel Yahoo Sport

Comment (1)

That's absolutely right.