Feb 23, 2010, 11:00 AM EST
Whether or not you agree with Dan Jenkins’ recent take on Tiger Woods, it’s one of those situations where you just have to get down on your knees and give the “We’re not worthy” bow to the words themselves. Jenkins, IMO, is every much a technician at the word processor as Woods is on the golf course; I often imagine him living his retirement off on a ranch somewhere, grooming nouns and adjectives like champion racehorses, pausing for an hour each day to supervise the polishing of his vocabulary. It was inevitable that the former writer for Sports Illustrated and author of Semi-Tough and Dead Solid Perfect would shift his focus to Affair le Tigre, and the result — his Feb. 18 column in Golf Digest — is revealing, pointed and, ultimately, devastating.
What set Jenkins off, evidently, is when Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, referred to his client as a “kid.” As in, the media should “give the kid a break.” Key excerpt:
Kids flew B-17s in daylight bombing raids over Germany in World War II. Kids fought in Korea and Vietnam. Kids are serving today in Iraq and Afghanistan so Tiger Woods can live in a world where he can win 14 majors and match that number, the last time I counted, with 14 casting couches, most of them reserved for blondes.
Hoo boy. Here we go.
Tiger Woods was a month away from 34 years of age when his debutantes began turning up in the news. He was a grown man with a wife and two children. Well, we supposed he had a wife, but that was before we learned she was only an ornament.
… Now excuse me a moment while I try to envision Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus playing video games and eating Fruit Loops while they try to deal with a career problem.
Of course, Hogan, Palmer and Nicklaus never set themselves up to become future statues in Central Park.
They never pretended to be the All-American Daddy-Pop Father of the Year Who Also Wins Golf Tournaments.
They never sold themselves as the greatest Family Values brand ever, and conquered the marketplace with it, shamelessly scooping up hundreds of millions of dollars while saying, “My family will always come first.”
They were never what Tiger allowed himself to become from the start: spoiled, pampered, hidden, guarded, orchestrated and entitled.
I’ll tell you what Hogan, Palmer and Nicklaus were at their peak.
They were every bit as popular as Tiger, they endured similar demands on their time, but they handled it courteously, often with ease and enjoyment.
They were accessible, likable, knowable, conversant, as gracious in loss as they were in victory, and, above all, amazingly helpful to those of us in the print lodge who covered them.
That was their brand. All the things Tiger never was.
And now, the capper:
Never in my knowledge of history has any famous personality — in sports, show biz, or politics — ever fallen so far so fast. Tiger Woods is graveyard dead, as the Southern expression goes.
Life as Tiger has known it is over. His reputation is ruined, possibly forever. His name that once meant mastery over competitive golf now invokes cringes, giggles and all the Internet jokes you want to pass along.
That’s what it’s like being deconstructed by a master; something that makes one take pause and think that, yeah, Tiger’s image is going to need major reconstructive surgery after all. It’s not a problem that a month at Gentle Path and a take-no-questions press gathering is going to fix. Tiger’s burden now is not only to fix himself, but to “win the crowd.” That’s not going to be easy with a majority of the public who now knows him only for his celebrity, and not his talent. Winning back golf fans will be easy. But most people aren’t golf fans, believe it or not. This “kid” has an enormous mountain to climb.
Nice (Not) Knowing You [Golf Digest]
- So long folks, it’s time for me to take off 18
- Man wins full marathon while pushing his daughter in a baby stroller (video) 14
- Lock and load, it’s youth baseball fundraising time: league raffling off AR-15 rifle (video) 8
- Sim Bhullar is a large basketball player, and I mean it. Anybody want a peanut? 0
- What’s with kids and all these death-defying stunts? 674
- Nothing to see here…just a 70-yard field goal by a high-schooler (video) 3
- None found