My Tiger Take        

He’s coming back, not when I thought, but at a place that will provide all the protection he needs. Augusta National, once you step behind the clubhouse, is off limits to press, photographers, and paparazzi. There may be an occasional discreet interview on the lawn under the oak and the Masters allows their networks limited access to the players but once a player leaves the driving range or parking lot, passes through the clubhouse and walks to the putting greens, he is off limits to the patrons. There are no autographs behind the clubhouse only golf.

The Pinkertons will be out en masse watching for unruly patrons, who will be few because they fear losing their treasured credentials. Some of the weekly passes have been passed on for generations, Augusta National controls who owns a weekly badge and will discontinue any passes of disruptive spectators. You don’t see anyone running at Augusta National let alone shouting something idiotic at a player. Just as he likes it Tiger will be cocooned as he goes about his business, remember it’s all about him.

Quite frankly I think Tiger is taking the easy route and is being a bit discourteous - John Maguinnes PGA Tour golf commentator called it cowardly - to the Masters and its participants. Any tournament he shows up at will have a circus atmosphere but out of respect for the hallowed grounds and the first major making his initial start should have been someplace else, like Bayhill. Tiger is still controlling everything and making it easy on himself, not explaining what is going on and apologizing to the golf fans. Hopefully his Tuesday press appearance, if there is one, will be a mea culpa to the general public.

His personal life is his business but when his squeaky clean image is used for commercial purposes, and his persona has been used to extract hefty sums of cash from the general public, we deserve an explanation, at the very least an apology. What was portrayed in advertisements wasn’t accurate, there was a fleecing going on and those high end corporate sponsors, Tiger included, had no concern for the fans only the almighty corporate profit at our expense. False advertising is against the law but I don’t think there will be any charges pressed so maybe an apology would suffice.

Once the golf starts gradually his antics will be forgotten but his pedestal needs to be lowered. Tiger will need to step down, mingle with the masses a bit more and disperse his bodyguards surrounding his every move. There needs to be a reconnection; I’m not sure he owes us this much but it would be nice. Arnold, Jack, Tom, Lee, and Phil all try to connect with the gallery. Tiger has always kept them at a distance only letting them “ohh and ahh” over his golf with never so much as a gaze into the crowd. Now is the time to establish some rapport, be a little human, and appreciate your fans. Hopefully this will be high on Ari Fleisher’s recommendation list.

Tiger, with a little genuine effort, will be forgiven over time and all things will be forgotten. We are very forgiving of our sports heroes especially if they come forth and honestly deal with the issue.

There will be no TMZ, Insider Tonight, or other tabloid news reporters anywhere near Augusta National unless they are in the trees surrounding the property. Stevie said he had a dozen news trucks parked outside his New Zealand home when the news broke and they followed his family’s every move. At the Masters you won’t find anyone but credentialed, long time golf news reporters from around the world, and any interviews will probably be controlled by Billy Payne himself. Any suspect questions will be immediately scratched and they will move on to the next reporter as the perpetrator is escorted from the hallowed press room.

It’s time to get back to golf, I think we’re all tired of the “Tiger Watch”. A good friend of mine, who happens to be a golf writer, told me awhile back he learned that our sports figures should never be our heroes. Our heroes should be closer to home, people we know from everyday life, and folks we are completely sure about in every way. Parents, teachers, friends, and relatives should be the ones we admire.

Talented sports figures are athletically gifted not necessarily morally dignified, and with all their entitlements temptations are lurking constantly. I’m not sure a lot of us could live in Tiger’s world and walk through unscathed; it’s not as easy as it looks. Maybe we should cut him some slack. I think I will but only after he reconnects with his fans, conducts himself in a gentlemanly manner on the course as Tom Watson suggested, and mixes with the masses a bit more.

We have to remember Tiger’s lifelong goals were based only around golf, this family thing came along recently and he’ll need to balance his act like Jack did for so many years. The Masters starts a year of majors at sites where Tiger has a pretty good history. There have been wins at Pebble, St. Andrews, and a good showing at Whistling Straits so the Grand Slam is feasible.

Hopefully his golf won’t disrupt his therapy schedule and he can slide back into his family life while he’s tracking down Bobby Jones’ and Jack’s legend. They put their family life before their golf, maybe there’s more we can learn from golf legends than just golf. Take a look Tiger and see how your heroes conducted themselves. Bobby learned how to control an awful temper and during tournaments Jack often flew home for family activities, he wasn’t out carousing the Perkin’s parking lots. Take a few notes, you’ve learned a lot about golf from them, maybe there are a few other lessons on life.  


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