AUGUSTA, Ga. – For better or worse, Tiger Woods has turned millions of golfers into psychologists. Observing the Tiger saga from afar, many have their opinions about why, how, what for and what next.
If the truth be told, writers and broadcasters are no more qualified to analyze this mess than Sam in the street or Mary at the mall.
That’s why I had to snicker when people kept referring to Monday’s Masters press conference as “Tiger’s first meeting with the media.”
As if the media could trigger some Tiger response that hadn’t been seen or heard before. As if the media had some magical ability to understand Tiger’s fall from superhuman status.
If anything, the media is less qualified (me too) to deal with the detrimental side of golf. In general terms, the media is pampered and coddled and indulged to such a degree that it has mostly lost its ability to be objective.
Seats for the Tiger press conference were awarded, if you will, to top golf journalists from around the world. So, depending on your sensibilities, it may or may not have seemed enormously funny when somebody suggested that the doors could be locked from the outside and the whole place set on fire.
I will admit that I laughed at the image: With one match, there go all the people viewed as Tiger’s interrogators.
Please, to those who say the media was too easy on Tiger, let us remember this was a press conference and not an inquisition.
Did anybody really expect Tiger to open his heart, mind and mouth with some new response to the same tired old questions? Of course not.
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I watched the whole thing from the second row, and, yes, I admit I was playing amateur psychologist. Here is my impression: Woods, in a predictable act of self-preservation, has succeeded in taking an incredibly complex situation and simplifying it, along with his life.
Over and over, he has admitted his mistakes. Now he says he is back to “core values and morals.” The bad boy is in the past and has been banished for life. The good boy has taken his place.
Golf is fun again, he said. Free of the juggling act of “lying all the time,” life is much simpler.
I called David E. Johnson, CEO of Strategic Vision, LLC, a leading public relations agency in Atlanta. What did he think?
“I thought it was better than his previous appearances,” Johnson responded. “He seemed more open, he seemed more vulnerable. His eyes and everything — you could tell he was scared. He looked more frightened and less self-assured and cocky.
“Overall,” Johnson concluded, “I would give him a B for his performance.”
That word performance sticks in my throat. If Tiger Woods and performance appear in the same sentence, we should be talking or writing about a golf tournament and not about his personal life.
Johnson’s one bit of advice: “He should open up more about his wife and kids. The more he does this, the quicker the story will go away. He didn’t seem prepared for the question about his wife and children.”
Overall, though, Woods seemed very well-grounded for his latest golf comeback. Bad Tiger is done and gone. Good Tiger is back.