Monday, December 21, 2009

Larry Holmes Speaks the Truth


FINALLY some common sense on this Tiger situation from former heavyweight champ Larry Holmes. No word on whether IMG is courting Holmes. As quoted over the weekend:

"You're Tiger Woods -- you're some famous athlete or show biz celebrity, whatever. The girl's got you in the corner. She's in your face. You're like, 'No, no, no, I can't do this. I got the wife at home.'

"But she's pushing and pushing and finally you give in. It don't mean nothing. It's just 30 seconds. But it feels so good you want it again and again and again. They're a toy to play with. And that's all you are to them. You give them some money and they go away. You're in Vegas. They don't call it 'Sin City' for nothing. And if they catch you, they got photos of you right on top of the woman? You say, 'No, man, that ain't me, that's my twin brother!' And you go home and make love to your wife."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wow.

The Latest Statement from Tiger Woods:

"I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused to so many people, most of all my wife and children. I want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask forgiveness. It may not be possible to repair the damage I've done, but I want to do my best to try.

I would like to ask everyone, including my fans, the good people at my foundation, business partners, the PGA Tour, and my fellow competitors, for their understanding. What's most important now is that my family has the time, privacy, and safe haven we will need for personal healing.

After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person.

Again, I ask for privacy for my family and I am especially grateful for all those who have offered compassion and concern during this difficult period."


Tiger is doing the right thing, as tough as that may be for golf fans to accept.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Let the Legend Shrink. For Now.

I've obviously received plenty of emails from people wondering what I think about the news of the last week. I thought long and hard about what to say and not to say. Here's where I've landed.

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For 604 holes of the 2008 season, I followed Tiger Woods from the gallery. From Torrey Pines to Dubai and back again, I was there, learning what I could. I spent my whole life up till then as a Tiger skeptic, rooting against him and finding him both cold and calculating. But over the course of that remarkable season in which he won 5 of 7 events and the U.S. Open on one leg, I came to admire all the qualities that made him wildly successful. His focus... his desire to improve when no one thought he could… the way he battled through adversity… and his ability to find victory when defeat seemed unavoidable.

But what made Tiger beloved to so many was not merely that he hit spectacular golf shots under pressure. It was the way he carried himself in the public eye. In an age where professional athletes seem to split time between home and prison, Tiger was the exception to the rule -- a family-loving, tabloid-avoiding secular superstar. He didn’t need God, his inspiration and strength came from Mom, from Pops, and from within. After racking up dozens and dozens of victories, Tiger grew so confident that he believed he could literally will things to happen.

We had plenty of evidence to suggest this might be true. In 1994, he was 6-down after 13 holes at the 1994 U.S. Amateur and won. At the 2000 PGA Championship, Tiger needed to birdie his final two holes and did. And at last year’s U.S. Open, Tiger had to make a 12-footer on the 72nd hole to tie Rocco Mediate and keep his hopes of a 14th major alive. Like always, Tiger made it. He even seemed to be willing the perfect life. Blonde Swedish model-turned-wife? Check. A healthy baby girl followed by a healthy baby boy? Done.

But it couldn’t last forever. In my book Follow the Roar, I wrote that someday Tiger would miss a putt he was supposed to make, and we’d all wake up to the reality that Tiger was just a man after all, not a superhero.

I’m pretty sure Tiger would have preferred a missed putt to the events of the last week.

No matter the venue, Tiger has failed -- more publicly and with greater consequences than any inside-the-ropes defeat. The anguish he has put his family through will leave scars on each of them for the rest of their lives. He’s humbled and obviously embarrassed, maybe for the first time since he was a dorky Stanford freshman who played on the golf team and was nicknamed “Urkel” by his teammates.

I don’t excuse his actions. I don’t condone them. But given the numbers of mesmerized female fans I saw at every tour stop, I’m not surprised. The last time three girls were attracted to me at the same time, it went straight to my head. I was in 2nd grade, but still. The point is that few are strong enough to handle that life. We now know that Tiger is not one of them.

I don’t expect to hear from him. No one does at this point. But if Tiger should reach out, I know what I’d say. I’d tell him a story about something I witnessed back in 2008. It was Saturday evening on Augusta National’s putting green, and Hank Haney was watching Tiger stroke eight-footer after eight-footer. Tiger made most of them, a few missed on the right edge. After watching his pupil roll a half-dozen putts, Haney said just three words: “half a degree” -- the amount Tiger’s putter blade was open at impact. How Haney could see this was absurd, but Tiger nodded, made an adjustment, and the next batch of putts fell in the dead center of the cup. Tiger refused to ignore even the slightest weakness in his game, and fixed a problem no one else could see.

Tiger doesn’t need Hank Haney to point out this problem. But his response to it should be the same. Fix it. Failure in and of itself is not a bad thing. For out of it comes an opportunity for change and growth. As much as America loves to destroy its heroes, it also longs to see them rise from the ashes. Or as Tiger might say, to be better tomorrow than today.

But Tiger can’t will a healthy marriage into existence like a fifteen-footer. It will require a level of strength that can only come from above, not from within. My hope and prayer is that he finds that humility and grace and saves his family as a result. As much fun as it is to watch him play the sport I love, the goal of success at home far outweighs the worldly goal of getting to 19 majors.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d still love to see Tiger pass Jack in a few years. I’d just like his family to be standing next to the green when it happens.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sad Stuff

That's about all I can muster at this point, though I'm glad to see Tiger make the statement he did. Plenty of lessons to be learned here.