Tiger Woods, perhaps this will snap you out of this nearly eight-year funk: you’re in danger of being remembered as a fire-hydrant crashing, surgery-prone pill-popper who should have been the greatest to ever play golf.
Those 14 majors won as technology nullified your greatness?
The 79 PGA Tour wins in an era when 15 gets you into the Hall of Fame?
The 142 cuts made streak that spoke to your impeccable preparation and determination?
All of those and many other stellar accomplishments are in danger of being forgotten.
The latest chapter in your demise, complete with a mug shot that will follow you for life, threatens to overshadow the legacy you’ve built.
Worse, the chance to grow old with dignity is now in play.
Gone are the days you’ll be a blue-chip pitchman. Let that go. In November, 2009 you were arguably still the world’s most revered athlete and one of the most famous people on the planet. Everyone wanted their children to be like you. But those days of raking in millions off your smile, charm and playing prowess are over.
With a 3 a.m. DUI after last week proclaiming online how good you felt, the stakes are much greater. Your life, your children and your legacy are on the line. Will you finally reach out and let others in the close-knit world of golf help?
The track record says no. You like to do things your way and now look where it’s gotten you. Your behavior of late has raised eyebrows and made heads shake. You no-showed to the Genesis Open even when you were in town and the tournament host, WD’ing from a press conference and a surprise meet-and-greet with kids. Just last week you missed Tiger Jam for the first time ever, even as you then wrote on your website that you finally had the surgery necessary to alleviate pain.
In your texting list are two people who have a sense of what you’re dealing with and the strength to go on television and fess up to their past problems. Just in case you don’t know — but I know you do — Notah Begay has been very open about his DUI 17 years ago and his sobriety since. Your Stanford teammate can undoubtedly help steer you to the right people.
As Begay bluntly stated on Golf Channel when the news broke Memorial Day, this is “embarrassing,” “a wake-up call” and hopefully something you’ll use “to make changes.”
There is also Mark Rolfing, your partner in a possible Chicago-area golf course renovation project tied to Barack Obama’s presidential library. Rolfing reminded us he had a non-DUI wake-up call and who, after a cancer scare, will gladly lead you to experts who can help.
“Tiger doesn’t have a wide scope of friends,” he said on Golf Central, seated next to Begay. “He doesn’t really have what you consider a broad range of friends, but he has some really, really good friends like this guy sitting next to me and he’s going to have to rely on them.”
Forgetting those two for a moment, just remember that even after your past embarrassments and dramas, golf fans still love you. They still want to be in your presence, hear you tell stories of the good old days and be reminded of all the thrills you gave them.
All of that admiration for your efforts, all of that hard work you put into becoming a legend and all of your abilities to grow old gracefully are now on the line. Maybe it’s too late to keep your legacy from being harmed, but it’s not too late to save your life.