Friday

As I See it: The Tiger Who Won't Go Away

golf pundit and author of a new book, Patricia Hannigan writes,
It's been twelve hours since Tiger talked, and predictably people have been asking for my reaction. I've been hesitant to share it for fear of sounding... I don't know... naive? Something like that.

You see, I came away from the Tiger Woods press conference feeling much the way I felt a couple of months ago when the scandal first broke and Tiger's transgressions first came to light: I like Tiger Woods.

The affairs, and the arrogance... the deception and duplicitous behavior, somehow... for some reason... didn't stop me from liking him. In fact, I now realize they could probably tell me that Tiger Woods was a serial killer ... and I'd still like him. That's because when I say I like him what I actually mean is ... I have a soft spot in my heart for him. And it seems I probably always will.

That's the only way I know to explain it. Perhaps it's a kind of denial... but not really. Because I'm totally aware of the irony. Here's the thing: Starting on the morning of November 28, one scorned woman after another appeared on the scene. They all seemed to have layered hair, pouty lips, and pushed-up, pneumatic breasts. They brought with them ever-more-salacious stories of sex and deception, illustrated by a battery voice mails and text messages.

The tabloids, and the tabloid-inspired golf bloggers, covered the story and its cast of characters in minute detail. Relentlessly. As they should have, because that's their job. Ultimately they were joined by disgruntled members of the very golf media that had once routinely... and happily..."given Tiger Woods a proverbial "pass".

Motivated by years of pent-up resentment ... or by abject fear in these journalistically tumultuous time....this diverse group of golf content-creators dug for dirt and rehashed the most provocative stories coming out of the Tiger Woods rumor mill. Complete with timelines, surprise revelations and photoshopped spreads of the most marketable mistresses.

The group narrative got louder by the week, forming a collective crescendo of increasingly yellowish journalism. And I read it. Most of it anyway, because I'm supposed to be a golf scribbler of sorts myself.

And that's when it began to dawn on me: Through it all... through eighty plus days of continuous, tabloid-tainted coverage, I could not shake the good Tiger.

The little guy on the Mike Douglas show who grew up to become an extraordinary champion at a uniquely difficult and honorable sport. The man who resonated with every race and nationality because he seemed to represent them all. The benevolent, supremely confident, extremely capable, professional golfer with the warm smile.

Throughout the apologetic, awkward, much anticipated press conference, that Tiger just wouldn't go away. And he will not go away now. Because during those years before the scandal, that Tiger did exist. If only in my mind, as an ideal. And I feel like I'm better for it.