Every A-list actor or top tier athlete has a love-hate relationship with celebrity. Tiger Woods, on the other hand, has always detested it. His hunger for privacy amidst fame is well documented, and amazingly, has been largely successful in his 13 year career.
The reason he has been able to do this where so many other celebs have failed is due to a few factors, the biggest being that he almost never makes news off the golf course. When I was at Bay Hill in 2008, I asked a number of local fans what Tiger was like around Orlando, and the consensus was you might run into Tiger at the grocery store or at a restaurant, but he was by and large a boring but friendly public figure. He saved his drama and excitement for the back nine on Sunday.
The other giant factor in Tiger's off-course anonymity was his ability to control the media like no one else could. I always enjoyed watching the way he maneuvered around questions, answering only what he wanted, how he wanted. As a husband and father myself, it is hard to fault a man for wanting to protect his wife and children.
On top of this, few writers were ever willing to really dig for dirt. After all, the arrival of Tiger Woods boosted the profile of the PGA Tour and every player, writer and sponsor associated with it. In a sense, we were all indebted to him for our well-being and long term security. If he were to fall, many others would too.
Then came last weekend. A bizarre late-night car accident whose cobbled together facts included a 12-hour media blackout, broken glass, a 911 call, Tiger unconscious and bleeding from the mouth, his own wife wielding a golf club, Tiger "embarrassed," and a refusal to talk to police.
And yet the upshot of it all is the same -- please respect Tiger's privacy.
I'm not sure this will fly. Tiger doesn't need to air all his dirty laundry. Nor should he. His marital issues, fact or fiction, are not our business. But he does owe us something. He needs to convince us that he is not evading justice here, that the truth of whatever happened is not being buried or twisted with the help of high-priced lawyers.
Right now it feels that way.
Ultimately, if Tiger walks away from this with a careless driving charge and a fine, his lawyer will consider it a victory. But if we never know for certain what happened that night, it will remain very much a net loss for both Tiger and his fans, who have been led to believe that he is the kind of man who embraces challenges rather than run away from them.