by Jeff Skinner
Sunday afternoon we witnessed another chapter in the Tiger Woods saga when Tiger spoke to The Golf Channel and ESPN. In what looked like a strategy a politician might use, (thanks Ari Fleischer) Tiger gave two, quick interviews to Kelly Tilghman and Tom Rinaldi. It’s accepted political practice to use the Sunday morning talk shows to get your message across if you are a politician. OK, so it wasn’t Meet the Press or Face the Nation but Woods succeeded in getting his message out and appeared to be trying to start his journey back to being a golfer and some kind of normalcy.
You have to give credit to Tilghman and Rinaldi. They both asked the tough questions and tried to get answers to the questions we all have been wondering about for months. According to Tilghman there were no restrictions on any subject matter but all the two of them were allowed was five minutes. They did an excellent job considering the circumstances.
Some of Tilghman’s questions went deep into Tiger’s personal life and we may have seen a different Tiger if he truly believes what he is saying.
KT: “You went from becoming recognized as the greatest golfer in the world to becoming a punch line. How did that make you feel?
TW: “It was hurtful, but then again you know what, I did it. I’m the one who did those things and looking back on it now with a more clear head, I get it. I can understand why people will say these things because you know what, it was disgusting behavior. As a person, it’s hard to believe that was me, looking back on it now.”
KT: America was concerned when the world’s greatest golfer was lying on the ground with no shoes at 2:30 in the morning, bleeding, what happened that night?
TW: It’s all in the police report, they investigated it and they have it on public record; there’s a lot of stuff between Elin and I that will remain private and that’s about it.
KT: It’s been reported that members of your team, your inner circle were involved in your misdoings, is it true?
TW: That is not true; it was all me. I’m the one who did it, I’m the one who acted the way I acted, no one knew what was going on. I’m sure if more people would have known in my inner circle they would’ve, they would’ve stopped it … or tried to put a stop to it, but I kept it all to myself.
KT: What is the state of your marriage with Elin right now?
TW: We’re working on it and it’s a process that will remain private between her and I.
KT: How will you explain this to your children, one day when they’re old enough to understand?
TW: I will have that sit-down talk and it won’t be just one time, I know that. It will be numerous times and I take full ownership of it, I did it. No one else did; it was just me and that’s a responsibility that I will have. I will talk to my kids, for however long they want to talk about it. That is a conversation that will need to be had.
Rinaldi was just as comprehensive in the short time he was allotted.
TR: What’s the difference between the man who left Augusta national a year ago and the one who is about to return?
TW: A lot has transpired in my life. A lot of ugly things have happened. Things that…..I’ve done some pretty bad things in my life. And uh, all came to a head. But now, after treatment, going for inpatient treatment for 45 days and more outpatient treatment, I’m getting back to my old roots.
TR: You said you were in treatment. The simple question is, for what?
TW: That’s a private matter as well. But I can tell you what, it was tough, it was really tough to look at yourself in a light that you never want to look at yourself, that’s pretty brutal.
TR: Eleven months ago, here at Isleworth, I asked you, ‘How well does the world know you?’ What’s your answer to that now?
TW: A lot better now. I was living a life of a lie. I really was. And I was doing a lot of things, like I said, that hurt a lot of people. And stripping away denial and rationalization you start coming to the truth of who you really are and that can be very ugly. But then again, when you face it and you start conquering it and you start living up to it. The strength that I feel now, I’ve never felt that type of strength.
TR: I ask this question respectfully, but of course at a distance from your family life. When you look at it now, why did you get married?
TW: Why? Because I loved her. I loved Elin with everything I have. And that’s something that makes me feel even worse, that I did this to someone I loved that much.
TR: How do you reconcile what you’ve done with that love?
TW: We work at it.
Those are tough questions to ask and even though Woods avoided giving details of the accident and wouldn’t expand on his relationship with Elin he did offer more personal information about himself and his feelings in those brief five minute spots than he has in his entire professional life. Much of what he said sounds very much like “Rehab 101” and certainly he has put much thought into what he would and wouldn’t say but at least he has said something. This is really the first public step in his comeback.
As far as his answers are concerned, I saw what appeared to be a vulnerable and humbled Woods but on certain subjects he is still sticking to the party line. When he claims that no one in his inner circle knew of his affairs I have to doubt that and when he balks at the details of the night of the accident I understand why. I can’t believe I am saying this but Tiger is doing the right thing here. Woods is saying none of his circle was complicit in his affairs. I don’t believe him, but I understand that he is protecting his friends. When he refers to the police report for details of the accident he is protecting his wife. I understand that also. Could it be that there is still some thread of decency in Tiger?
Surely, Tiger and his team realized that something like this is required if Tiger expects to play professional golf again. He’ll face more questions again at The Masters but now he can say he has already answered those questions and just focus on golf.
Say what you will about the depth of Tiger’s responses, this is still a significant step for Woods. He needed to start somewhere to try and turn the tide in his favor and he may have succeeded here. The true test for me and many golf fans won’t be played out in front of a camera and a microphone. It will take place on the golf course. Unless Woods changes the way he acts on the course towards the fans the press and most importantly the game, he will not have grown as a person at all. We all love the magic that Tiger makes with his clubs but it’s time for Tiger to show that he really means to be a different person. He needs to show he wants to become a person of integrity and commitment. It won’t be easy for Woods. It’s a journey of a million steps and he has only taken the first one.
Link to Tilghman’s transcript.
Link to Rinaldi’s transcript.