So much for shedding tears on Oprah.
Tiger Woods is finished. Done. Said all he’s going to say.
Pretty much everything was neatly wrapped up in 13 and a half minutes, certainly to the satisfaction of the trio of women (his mother included) who looked on approvingly from the front row.
Besides, he has other things to do. Sex therapy is apparently just getting interesting, and he’s got some people back at the clinic in Mississippi who might need his help.
Someday he may even play golf again. Not only that, there’s a chance he’ll quit screaming the F-word every time he hits a bad shot.
For three months we’ve been waiting for Woods to utter something, anything, about the bizarre circumstances he finds himself in.
In one weirdly scripted and strangely robotic appearance, we got information overload.
Not about the salacious details of his wide and varied sex life, and that’s a good thing. Woods was right when he said that was between a husband and his wife, and surely we’ve heard enough already.
Give him credit, too, for admitting his sins and apologizing not only to fans everywhere but to parents who had to explain to their kids why the world’s greatest golfer is no longer a great role model. He had no choice, of course, but to come out and actually say the words instead of hiding behind prepared statements had to be a painful thing to do.
It’s all part of recovery, and at times it seemed like Woods was trying to cram an entire 12-step program in for extra credit when he returns to therapy. Other times it looked like a bad Saturday Night Live skit. You half expected Tina Fey to jump onstage at any minute.
Whatever it was, it had to be the most remarkable television apology/explanation/performance since Richard Nixon saved his vice presidential candidacy with his infamous “Checkers” speech more than a half century ago. About the only thing missing was a mention of his dog.
Elin wasn’t there, disappointing some online bookies who made her even money to show up. Mom was, though, and the Tigercam stayed tightly focused on her and two female Woods employees offering looks of sympathy, one of them even dabbing her eyes.
That, of course, was part of the plan. Everything was rehearsed, everything was scripted. The camera angles showed only what Team Woods wanted to show, and the three reporters allowed inside were not allowed to ask any embarrassing questions.
Put it on late night cable with a suggested retail price of $19.95 and you would find some takers. Toss in a few 8-by-10s of Tiger jogging in his Nike apparel that the Woods camp released earlier this week and you might have a hit.
But that’s all it was, an infomercial that seemed aimed directly at the women in the audience.
It didn’t work.
“He just came across as very arrogant, not believable, not likable,” said Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, a top New York PR firm that does crisis management work. “I found myself almost giggling in the sense of what was he apologizing for? Being caught or for really doing something? The fact there was continually three women in the frame was clearly very contrived as well.”
Indeed, Woods might have been better off issuing another statement on his Web site, because this had all the soul of one of his prepared releases. His people advertised the gathering as a chance for him to personally apologize to friends and associates, but most of the invited audience were either Woods’ employees or PGA Tour executives.
And, while a lot of things were said, a lot more things went unsaid.
Had Woods taken questions from reporters we might have found out what caused his bad driving that Thanksgiving night in Florida. Surely someone would have asked how a golf club ever got involved. We might have learned whether he was on medication or had been drinking when he ran into a fire hydrant and a tree.
There would have been questions about his relationship with a Canadian doctor linked to human growth hormone. And he might have been able to tell us why he was headed back to sex rehab again after spending 45 days in a program usually completed in four to six weeks.
We might have even found out if he was going to play in the Masters the second week of April, something that still appears likely.
We didn’t, because the man whose life so suddenly spun out of control still desperately wants to be in control. The game has changed, but Woods is still using the same playbook that catapulted him into the biggest star in sports and made him the first athlete to earn a billion dollars.
Under the old rules, it would now be over. Woods would be done talking, and everyone would be happy to get back to watching him play golf.
Not anymore. The script Woods read from is almost certainly the last he’ll get away with using. Once he goes back on tour, the questions will come.
For now we’re supposed to believe he’s working hard on being a better husband and father. We’re supposed to believe he’s given up his arrogant ways and wants only to live a life of integrity.
We’ll believe it when we see it, not just when he says it.
Because if we’ve learned anything about Tiger Woods in this whole sordid mess, it’s that what he says and what he does can be two very different things.