by Jeff Skinner
Finally, someone with some big league chops gives Tiger what he deserves: a smack in the head. Billy Payne, is the The Chairman of Augusta National and is the voice of the most exclusive club in America. In his press conference he says that Tiger has disappointed his fans and many of those fans wear green jackets. Payne takes Tiger to the woodshed for his recent scandalous behavior. The fact that Payne would publicly chastise Woods, a four time Masters Champion, speaks to the depth of the hurt and disappointment that the Augusta members feel. Understand this, it may have been only Payne’s voice speaking the words but he represents the majority of the membership.
“As he ascended in our rankings of the world’s great golfers, he became an example to our kids that success is directly attributable to hard work and effort. But as he now says himself, he forgot in the process to remember that with fame and fortune comes responsibility, not invisibility. It is not simply the degree of his conduct that is so egregious here; it is the fact that he disappointed all of us, and more importantly, our kids and our grandkids. Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we saw for our children.”
“Is there a way forward?” he said. “I hope yes, I think yes. But certainly his future will never again be measured only by his performance against par, but measured by the sincerity of his efforts to change. I hope he now realizes that every kid he passes on the course wants his swing, but would settle for his smile.”
I hope [Woods] can come to understand that life’s greatest rewards are reserved for those who bring joy to the lives of other people. We at Augusta hope and pray that our great champion will begin his new life here tomorrow in a positive, hopeful and constructive manner, but this time, with a significant difference from the past.”
The past four months have seen everyone with any kind of forum chime in with an opinion on Tiger and his troubles. From sportswriters, to comedians, to bloggers to the president, everyone had an opinion on Tiger. Billy Payne’s statement may be the most significant piece that has been said since Woods bounced his SUV off a fire hydrant.
Billy Payne is no lightweight. He isn’t a talk show host or some sportswriter looking to make a name, this guy runs Augusta. He is a force to be reckoned with and when he speaks, those he is speaking to usually listen.
This is what this whole Tiger fiasco has been missing: someone that isn’t beholding to Tiger calling it as he sees it. The golf media and The PGA Tour are tied to Tiger’s success to such an extent that any criticism of Woods is borderline blasphemy. Tim Finchem and the PGA Tour players have seen their paychecks skyrocket in the Tiger Era. No one is willing to kill the golden goose. No one will say the emperor has no clothes. Billy Payne has done both and in doing so has brought a much needed dose of sanity to an otherwise insane situation. Payne is in a rare position in the golf world: he is a powerful person that is not beholding to Tiger Woods. Payne and his fellow members do what they want and don’t care what anyone thinks. Go ask Martha Burke if you need a reference.
It’s about time someone with a stake in the game calls out Tiger. It was a highly unusual move for Payne, usually things get said and done at Augusta away from the cameras. On this occasion Payne chose the biggest forum in golf. I have a new respect for Payne and the membership of Augusta, not only do they run a special golf tournament they are concerned with the behavior of their champions.
Billy Payne said what many have been thinking for months and Tiger will have to take notice. Payne wants Tiger back in the game but not at any cost and few can say that.