Woods takes first step on road to redemption
By Kevin Fylan and Tom Pilcher
Tiger Woods’s decision to take an indefinite break from golf will be a real worry for a sport that has relied on the drawing power of the world’s best player for so long but it might prove to be a necessary first step on the player’s own road to redemption.
“He’ll figure it out — we’ve always been a forgiving society,” major record holder Jack Nicklaus said before Woods announced his decision to take a break.
Well, even a forgiving society likes to see a little contrition and the tone of the statement Woods put out on Friday was certainly much more contrite and conciliatory than the spiky defence of his right to privacy in his only previous comment.
“I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused to so many people, most of all my wife and children. I want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask forgiveness. It may not be possible to repair the damage I’ve done, but I want to do my best to try.
“I would like to ask everyone, including my fans, the good people at my foundation, business partners, the PGA Tour, and my fellow competitors, for their understanding. What’s most important now is that my family has the time, privacy, and safe haven we will need for personal healing.
“After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person.”
Woods had received criticism from pretty much everywhere for the “PR disaster” of his original statement but this more open, more rounded, more human response is likely to earn him much more understanding and compassion.
There are many, many examples of celebrities and sports figures who have been forgiven for “transgressions” and usually it has been after they have made public confessions and apologies. For a recent example you need only look to David Letterman, the TV host whose popularity seems undimmed despite the revelations about him sleeping with interns.
It is interesting that Nike, one of Woods’s largest sponsors, has already said it will stand by the golfer. “Tiger has been part of Nike for more than a decade,” the company said. “We look forward to his return to golf.”
Of course, it remains to be seen how other sponsors, officials and fans react but if, when he returns, he can recapture the sort of form that brought him 14 majors there will be many, many people welcoming his success.
Picture the scene: a smiling and humble Tiger Woods strolls down the 18th at Augusta National on his way to a 15th major title on the final day of the U.S. Masters in April.
Can you imagine him taking that walk to boos and jeers from the galleries? It seems unthinkable.
PHOTO: Tiger Woods of the U.S. reacts after taking a shot on the 14th hole during the 2009 HSBC Champions golf tournament in Shanghai November 5, 2009. REUTERS/Nir Elias