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Tiger Woods: "I felt I was entitled."

A Tiger Changes his Stripes: Woods apologizes for his actions, won't say when he'll return to golf.

“I don’t get to play by different rules … I brought this upon myself.”

Fascinating. The world watched while a golfer — perhaps the best of all-time — said he had cheated on his wife, he’d felt entitled and had lived without integrity. He didn’t cry, he didn’t breakdown, but he also didn’t seem defiant. More than anything he seemed worn out.

I truly didn’t think we’d see this — a largely repenent Tiger Woods, taking like someone going through a 12-step program (which is apparently the case) apologizing for his actions, standing in front of a small room of reporters, his mother unable to look at him while sitting with her arms crossed. Elin Woods was not in the crowd, though notables like PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and fellow PGA Tour pro Notah Begay were there. Woods, wearing a dark suit and blue shirt, looked weary and worn out.

“I convinced myself normal rules did not apply,” Woods said part way through his speech.

Given the guys I’ve known with more money than the GDP of some small nations, I’d say that is often true. They do operate under different rules. Some find that lifestyle unrewarding, while others revel in it. Woods apparently loved the fast lane — the fast women, the jets, the money. The only issue was he also apparently wanted a family and kids. Turns out it was tough to have both.

The tabloid meltdown aside, one thing is clear — there’s no clarity as to when Woods is coming back to the PGA Tour. I found myself wondering when he’d bring up a return to the PGA Tour. I recognize it would have been tough to have come off as sincere and said, “Well, now that’s over, let’s talk about golf.” Instead he said the words that must have sent shivers down the spine of PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem: “I do plan to return to golf someday.”

Someday? You could almost hear Finchem’s jaw hit the floor. Now I don’t believe for an instant that Finchem didn’t have some sense of Woods’ speech; he’d never allow the PGA Tour headquarters to be used if that were the case.

“I don’t rule out it will be this year,” he said. But don’t expect him at the Tavistock Cup. And the Masters seems unlikely. Could he skip the year? Sure. Could he play a very limited schedule upon his return? Wouldn’t surprise me.

Instead of playing golf he’s heading back to rehab — which he acknowledged he’s been at in recent weeks (confirming rumors). There had been talk that by chosing today to give his public comments he was insulting Accenture. That wasn’t the case, he said. Instead he’s heading back to rehab.

And he ended with a plea for understanding, with a last gasp hope that he can ressurect his tattered image and public persona: “Finally, there are many people in this room, and there are many people at home who believed in me,” he said. “Today I want to ask for your help. I ask you to find room in your heart to one day believe in me again.”

I thought the speech was contrite, but still had the defiance that has been typical of Woods. He’s not answering any questions about the affairs — just acknowledging them and asking people to move on. That’s unlikely given the media interest in Tigergate. I do agree his kids should be left out of this, but he admits he brought this on himself. Now he expects it to simply go away? Maybe he should have considered how his actions would impact his kids before he took it out of his pants with every two-bit floozy over five states:

Woods said: “Despite the damage I have done, I still believe it is right to shield my family from the public spotlight. They did not do these things; I did. I have always tried to maintain a private space for my wife and children. They have been kept separate from my sponsors, from my commercial endorsements. When my children were born, we only released photographs so that the paparazzi could not chase them. However, my behavior doesn’t make it right for the media to follow my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter to school and report the school’s location. They staked out my wife and they pursued my mom. Whatever my wrongdoings, for the sake of my family: Please leave my wife and kids alone.”

As for his wife, I think a lot of what happens next hinges on her. Woods seemed almost angered at the suggestions of domestic violence that have swirled around the whole situation: “Some people have speculated that Elin somehow hurt or attacked me on Thanksgiving night. It angers me that people would fabricate a story like that. Elin never hit me that night or any other night. There has never been an episode of domestic violence in our marriage, ever. Elin has shown enormous grace and poise throughout this ordeal. Elin deserves praise, not blame. The issue involved here was my repeated irresponsible behavior. I was unfaithful. I had affairs, I cheated. What I did is not acceptable. And I am the only person to blame.”

So no to the plastic surgery talk, apparently. But frankly, what wife comes back to a husband who hooked up with a waitress in a parking lot, toured the world with another noted party girl, and apparently banged porn stars? How do you come back from that? And if Elin is done with her husband — and who could possibly blame her — than maybe all of this therapy am0unts to little. If that’s the case, perhaps Woods is back playing golf sooner than later.

In the end, will this speech put an end to anything? Hardly. If he thinks no one is going to bring it up — that this speech ends the interest and endless speculation — he’s wrong.

A full transcript of Woods’ comments can be found here.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Robert:

    As I am sure you are more aware then most of us Tiger Woods has been vindictive and unforgiving of any perceived slight he faced from fellow competitors, or media people. Now he is asking for precisely the understanding he has been unwilling to give to others. And there appears to be no recognition of the irony of that by Woods.

    The most emotional his “speech” got, was when he was blaming the media. His mothers comments were disgusting; a completely inconsiderate and insensitive slap in the face to Tigers wife. In my view the Woods family still sees the world revolving around just them, and are only eager to get the satellites back in the order they dictate.

  • Joe is pretty much spot on.

    The mom using the old “he didn’t kill anyone” suggests she doesn’t buy this whole deal and is just playing along.

    Tiger looked his most genuine talking about the media – he was about to snap. The rest seemed wooden and rehearsed.

    Why the frig could he not just issue a statement? Whole thing was too long anyway.

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