Commentary: Tiger Woods must follow statement with action

Fifteen minutes of fame can define a person. Fifteen minutes of human failure now defines Tiger Woods.

In a wide ranging statement to a global world of golf and the golfing media, a humbled Tiger Woods apologized to anyone and everyone, and said he would do better in his future life.

Four months after his SUV accident, the battle with his wife, and a failed attempt to control his privacy in the tabloid world we live in, Woods went down. His image shattered, his career on hold, he emerged humbled and honest.

It was indeed a different look at Tiger Woods. His 13 minute speech was not about shot selection or the course, golf clubs or the competition. It was about his wife, his kids, his hurt, his dishonesty.

The man, who once controlled everything, has seen his life spin out of control. Mistresses, porn stars, reality show hosts, pancake house hostesses, call girls. Name it, they linked themselves to him, and tabloids alleged he was paying for it.

That was then, this is now, at least as Tiger Woods tells it. He is headed back for more intensive rehab for his sexual addiction. Unknown now is when he resurfaces, and when he plays golf again. Like a recovering alcoholic, the craving for sex will be a day-to-day battle. It will be interesting to see if being away from golf, without day-to-day practice, becomes a negative to regaining his status, as a professional.

The man, who was always held in such high regard, used self critical terms like irresponsible and selfish. He spoke of money and fame and a feeling of entitlement to do whatever he wanted, with whomever he wanted.

Tiger has always been about staging and packaging. Not so any longer. A life, a family, a marriage and his credibility ripped apart. All his shortcomings are out in full public for viewing, thanks to his affairs.

If there was a shortcoming, it was his attack on the media, for stalking and reporting about his wife, kids and mother. Of course he failed to mention he brought all this on himself.

And there was the question of honesty too. Remember his early Web site comments about infidelity. Who could have imagined the last leaderboard-scoreboard count showed him involved with at least 19 different women. Equally appalling were words like miscarriages and abortions that came out of the mouth of one mistress.

But in his closing comments, I saw something different. Tiger, who always looked down on people, the fans, the media, this time looked directly into the camera. He did this press briefing with his personal and professional face down in an alley. Tiger, always the sales pitchman — about his gear, his equipment, his car — was now trying to sell rehabilitation and sell honesty.

He asked the world to “believe in me.” I never heard him ask “forgive me.” I never heard him whine about how hard his life has been the last four months, only the pain he has caused Elin, his mother, her family, and his closest associates.

The man so private in success, is such a human failure now. The golfing world may sometime this year get a chance to cheer him. I find it hard to believe Elin could ever welcome him home after all he has done. I was impressed with what he said. I was depressed thinking about what she will have to deal with in terms of trust going forward. It will be so hard.

Tiger Woods’ global apology came 19 mistresses too late to save his credibility. Maybe it came just in time to save his wife and life.

The golfing great, always on a pedestal, is now in the gutter. His words mean nothing. His future actions will mean a lot.

Lee “Hacksaw” Hamilton hosts “Sportswatch” (3-7 p.m.) weekdays on XX-1090. His SDNN columns have been honored by the San Diego Press Club.

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