What next, Tiger?

Published : Apr 29, 2010 00:00 IST

Wouldn't it have been far better if Tiger Woods had behaved with the love, dignity and composure shown by the Augusta Masters winner Phil Mickelson who did not need to say he was dedicating the victory to his wife who is suffering from cancer, asks Ted Corbett.

Right, all together then — “Well done Tiger! You've had a tough time in the last six months what with the wife finding out about all those ladies and them confessing to the tabloids. Guess it must be a relief to get back on the golf course and relax and almost win the Masters.”

You see, it has always been difficult for me to see what all the fuss was about. Let me explain.

I have been on the fringe of top professional sport all my life and I know that the sort of stuff recorded by those lady friends of Tiger goes on all the time. I do hope you are not shocked.

In the upper reaches of every sport there are young men in the prime of life, with a pocketful of money, star status and the need to fill time in between the moments of high pressure.

It is never very far to the nearest pretty girl who is also (a) pleased to meet a celebrity, (b) looking round for Mr. Right and (c) carried along by the heady mix of high octane personalities and beautiful surroundings.

Rugby, football, cricket, snooker — yes, solemn, boring old snooker where the stars used to be in their 70s when they won the world title but are now barely out of their teens — tennis and all the other competitive games produce the same fiery cauldron.

My guess is that boy met girl with predictable results way back when the Olympic Games were first organised in ancient Greece.

Now, when Tiger Woods is alleged to be a billionaire, when Premier League footballers earn enough to buy 40-50 medium sized houses a year and even the poor cousins from the cricket world can afford to drive cars the size of small bungalows, there is the temptation of a fashionable handbag full of dollars to be picked up along the way too.

Of course it ought not to be so.

My best friend has also spent his life in sport — Test cricket, captaincy of a county side, golf fanatic — and his verdict on the Woods affairs was: “His only mistake was to be caught.”

Isn't it always the case?

Woods was the special victim because he had — so it was supposed — always lived a righteous life, looked neatly turned out whenever he played and was very close to his late father. Family man, saintly person, even if he did spit and swear.

My guess is that if Woods senior had still been around, all this furore would have been swept under a carpet.

Instead Mrs. Woods found the evidence, lost her temper and Mr. Woods drove his car into every obstacle around his house. Along come the cops, closely followed by the nearest nasty reporter and suddenly the whole story spills across the pages of local, national and international newspapers.

Woods goes into hiding, also known as rehab, comes out to make apologies so rehearsed that sportsmen everywhere hid behind the couch and then takes part in a tournament so strictly controlled that one TV commentator is asked to leave for saying the grass is short.

Tiger is in touch with the leaders to the end, even though he includes a three-putt from six feet in the final round, gets into the trees — to set up a series of Woods in the woods jokes — and is so cross with his own performance that he forgets his promise to cut out the bad language.

Then — typically arrogant — he declines to discuss his future and rushes back into hiding, probably to count his money which might be in short supply by his standards but would keep many of us in emergency rations.

Several of his sponsors have dropped him — my mother used to say “more men have been hanged for adultery than murder” and I now see where she was coming from — but fourth prize in the Masters is more than pocket money.

So, as we saw when he dropped the ball four feet from the hole from a lie behind a tree 200 yards away, we know he has not lost his touch. I will also bet he found four days on the golf course made him forget his other troubles.

So whatever next?

My guess is that within a couple of years Tiger will be winning by a wide margin, will be ready to smash more records and earning just as much as he was before the car crash.

I also suspect there will be a number of golfers — household names probably — who will be keeping their fingers crossed lest someone recounts their adventures.

Wouldn't it have been far better if Tiger had behaved with the love, dignity and composure shown by the winner Phil Mickelson who did not need to say he was dedicating the victory to his wife who is suffering from cancer?

If Tiger had behaved a little more like Phil, Mrs. Woods might be more inclined to ignore all offers of airline tickets back home to Sweden.

Michelson played with that dangerous mix of elan and aggression which showed he has realised there was more to life than golf.

We don't need to congratulate Phil on his success. Go safely son, you deserve every penny you earned at Augusta. We all wish you and your family well; it would be pure hypocrisy for us to wish Tiger anything but the brains to reform his way of life.

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