Will Tiger play in the Masters?

Tiger Woods GolfI would be being less than honest if I said Tiger’s statement did not get to me. It did. But I might not be admitting this had I not seen the likes of Brandel Chamlee, Charlie Rymer, and David Feherty react in a similar fashion. I don’t expect everyone will have the same reaction. Less than a day later it’s clear that reaction is, well, varied. But I think a consensus of opinion at least wants to give Tiger the benefit of doubt.

As my wife less charitably noted, the event seemed overly prepared, handled, and rehearsed. Looking up at the camera at just the right time appeared more the product of professional coaching than a genuine connection with his audience. The gratuitous and elaborate references to his various charities and foundations was overkill. But in the end, did any of this take away from what I believe Tiger is truly feeling? No, not really.

To be kind, perhaps we are just so used to seeing Tiger in a golf shirt, golf hat, relaxed and unscripted, that it’s difficult for us to adapt to a different context.

If Tiger owed us an apology, and perhaps he did, then we at least owe Tiger the right to deliver that apology in whatever manner he is comfortable. That is Tiger’s right as much as it is our right to have our own individual reactions to what Tiger had to say. For my part as a fan and as a semi-competitive and avid golfer, Tiger needn’t apologize further. At least not to me.

Some of the negative commentary following Tiger’s statement focuses on the fact we are no further ahead in knowing when Tiger may return to competitive golf. What irks me is this criticism comes from the very same people, who if Tiger had used the occasion to also announce his return to Augusta in a mere 7 weeks, would have dismissed Tiger’s apology as disingenuous and merely as a pretence for announcing his return to golf. Tiger was damned either way.

I must admit that in the final few minutes before Tiger spoke, perhaps once I caught a glimpse of the somber room full of somber looking people, I suddenly became very concerned that Tiger might announce he would not play in this year’s Masters or perhaps not at all this year, or ever again. How selfish of me? Here is a guy that’s obviously going through hell, even if it’s mostly self-inflicted, and what I seemed to care most about was whether or not Tiger was going to entertain me by putting a small round ball in a slightly larger round hole.

For those of you who think that’s all I, and I suspect others, were worried about, you can stop reading now.

Tiger’s words, even if borrowed, ring very true; “it’s not what we achieve, it’s what we overcome that matters.’ Perhaps then our zeal for wanting to see Tiger back sooner rather than later says more about our desire for early signs that Tiger is successfully overcoming his daemons than it is about watching the world’s number 1 golfer play golf.

Tiger may not defeat his daemons and his marriage may yet fail. But not everyone has, or should have, the morbid mentality of a  TMZ or the National Enquirer. There is a vast difference between showing an appropriate amount of interest in Tiger’s unfortunate circumstances versus wanting, hoping, and in some cases having at least an indirect hand in causing someone fall just to sell more eyeballs.

There appears to be no limit to what Tiger can be criticize for, including Ernie Els and others who think the timing of Tiger’s statement during the Accenture match play championship is “selfish.”  I truly did not see what benefit accrued to Tiger by speaking on Friday as opposed to say Monday, nor do I see how Accenture was so maligned. In fact, I agree with Brandel Chamblee’s assessment that Accenture has only benefited as more viewers than otherwise might have tuned in when Tiger is in the news in one form or another.

Accenture_Tiger_260x347More ironic, if not selfish in their own right, is that Accenture is the firm who shortly after the Tiger saga broke, I thought initially showed the greatest amount of compassion and insight into the complexities of the matter with their clever “it’s what you do next that counts” advertisement. Too bad Accenture was too selfish to stick around long enough to find out. Or, was Accenture also guilty of some level of disingenuousness?

For weeks, if not months, I have openly speculated that Tiger would play in the 2010 Masters. Now I am not so sure. But my gut still thinks/hopes there is no way Tiger’s role in this year’s Master’s is going to be limited to that of clutching a TV remote.

No way!

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