Stuck in the rough, Tiger goes to ground

TIGER WOODS could not even bring himself to make an appearance on his own website last night as he apologised for the “transgressions” that have exposed the golfing god as an ordinary mortal, away from the course at least.

As US tabloids upped the ante in the celebrity witchhunt stakes with revelations of extra-marital affairs conducted by golf’s number one, Woods issued the first substantive statement on the matter since his world began to come crashing down early last Friday morning.

Achilles took an arrow in the heel, Samson lost his flowing locks and Woods, well, where a dodgy knee failed to get him, a rogue fire hydrant at the end of his driveway proved more than up to the task.

And so, last night, as Woods came clean on his official website and admitted his indiscretions, a picture of the 33-year-old global sporting phenomenon customarily adoring the home page was replaced simply by his signature.

As was his legal right, he had refused to discuss what was a minor, one-car accident with Florida Highway Patrol troopers on three separate occasions.

He had withdrawn from his own golf tournament, the Chevron World Challenge which begins today in California and which annually benefits his own, good charitable cause, the Tiger Woods Foundation.

Now, as a final signal of his retreat from the public eye to heal the wounds inflicted on a seemingly picture perfect family, even his image was withdrawn in place of a scrawled autograph.

In his mea culpa, Woods expressed dismay at realising what “the full extent of what tabloid scrutiny really means” yet his status as the greatest exponent of his sport, as the endorser of ubiquitous consumer products such as Nike, Gillette and Gatorade, and his position as a multicultural icon places him at that uncomfortable world in which sports and the industry of celebrity gossip collide.

For better or worse, and it’s mostly the latter, Woods has no choice in the matter.

It comes with the territory and once a story such as this breaks, however insignificant and irrelevant it may appear to the talent or vocation that placed you there, a huge interest will be stirred.

Having seen so many celebrities crash and burn in such a manner, Woods must surely have known where his “transgressions” would eventually lead.

To expect to be immune from such exposure was delusional at best, particularly for a self-confessed control freak who has been a public figure since he picked up a golf club and went on The Bob Hope Show as a toddler.

Woods was a hostage to this story the minute he hit that hydrant at the end of his drive but while the injuries and gossip that followed that incident will lead to some private soul-searching and fence-mending in the family home, the matter should now be closed to those of us outside it.

The real issues that should concern the rest of us now should be sporting ones and the answer to those will not come until Woods reemerges next year at the No.1 tee box in the opening round of his first tournament of the year.

Because if a turbulent winter begins to impact on his summer job, then we will have another story on our hands.


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