Something about it made me feel guilty, dirty even, but I didn’t care. Even back when Tiger Woods was supposedly a saint among us mere mortals, I knew that pulling for him to stick every 7-iron, make every putt and win every major was akin to rooting for some sort of individual hybrid of the Yankees, Manchester United and the UConn Lady Huskies. But still, I couldn’t stop.
After yesterday, the eve of The Masters, on a day that should have been the first step to Woods’ public recovery from what I believe is termed “Thinking With Your Dick Syndrome” (or, TWYDS), I know that I will never root for him again. Oh, I’ll watch. Believe me, I’ll watch the guy hit golf balls this weekend and on several weekends thereafter, regardless of how much my dear fiance complains. But I will be hoping for a lifetime full of FAIL for Tiger, and it only took one day to come to this conclusion.
It’s hard to decide which is more crass, more emblematic of a man who sees the world like oil companies see the environment (as a theater where the only logical action is to use, abuse and discard): the newest and creepiest public affair to date, or Nike deciding to go zombie-viral. Both instances show just how disposable people are to Mr. Woods, whether you’re referring to family members or young blond neighbors.
True, the keg-stand aficionado who fell into Tiger’s clutches was a consenting adult, but she also knew Tiger from an early age (Tiger first had contact with the 22-year-old Raychel Coudriet when she was either 14 or 9, depending on who you believe). I’m not prudish enough to say that if you know a girl before she’s of age, she’s off-limits in the bedroom forever. After all, I loved the The Time Traveler’s Wife (the book, not the movie). Of course, Tiger doesn’t travel through time without his clothes (at least not that we know of, although nothing would surprise us at this point).
Regardless, Tiger’s a grade-A dirtbag. Not because Augusta National chairman Billy Payne whined about the disappointment Woods brought to all our “kids and grandkids” who held him up as a “hero.” For all the power we hand celebs, whatever dreams the world’s kids and grandkids have that get crushed aren’t something Tiger can fully control. What he CAN control is taking advantage of a young woman who he had contact with that probably looked up to him (and perhaps even fell in love with him, if the National Enquirer is to be trusted), when all he wanted her for was to serve as his living blowup doll. Sure, all’s fair in love and adultery, but family friends seem like they should be off limits, especially to a guy who’s never heard of a condom and has access to seemingly every waitress, hostess and stripper in the country.
Then, as the (ahem) cherry on top of the sundae, we get the Nike ad featuring Earl Woods. I’m not even as upset as many about the fact that Nike and Tiger used an out-of-context quote from his late father to sell square-headed drivers. This is just the sporting goods equivalent of what’s been done in the music industry for years with murdered rappers and drug-overdosing rockers (related note: over the weekend I gave my mom the “new” Jimi Hendrix album for her birthday).
The message of the commercial is what gets me. For one, Tiger’s papa said, “I am more prone to be inquisitive, to promote discussion.” That’s a nugget Nike’s throwing out there to make us think, “Hey, maybe instead of judging the man-whore from our pedestals, maybe we should think about what this means to ourselves and society at large.” In short, it deflects blame (pure Tiger, Mr. “I wasn’t going very fast, but unfortunately I hit a few things.”). Then Earl asks, “Did you learn anything.” What this really means is, “Will we all learn along with Tiger? Did all this mistress-sex happen for a reason after all?”
Yes Nike, what we’re all consumed with is whether Tiger learned anything. The Miseducation of Tiger Woods, that’s our No. 1 priority. I wish they’d have ran this same ad after Charles Barkley got that DUI on his way to that supposed blowjob in Phoenix.
“Uh yeah, I learned nevah to tell a cop you want to get a blowjob. Just give him money if you wanna get out of a DUI. Don’t forget to get some Air Max 180s!”
(For a more fitting version of the Nike commercial, watch the video below.)
It’s been said that Tiger’s relationship with his dad was the only thing that brought us in — the only thing that made him human. But Earl Woods was as far from being a saint as his son. Earl was a known philanderer who angered Tiger with his multiple affairs (maybe that’s why Tiger agreed to the commercial, to dirty his father’s dead hands along with his own). There’s probably no one out there who can say they’ve never repeated a mistake one of their parents made, but none of us are hastily filming quasi-philosophical Nike commercials about those mistakes either, acting as if treating women like Kleenex is something we can use as a teaching moment.
The problem for Tiger (and Nike) is we’ve learned only one thing: celebrities are too stupid and/or arrogant to adequately secure their phone data, and if you treat mistresses like dirt, they will do anything and everything to exact revenge (of course, I think I sort of remember this lesson being taught to us by one Barry Lamar Bonds a couple years ago, but whatever).
So I’m no longer rooting for Tiger, and I doubt I’m the only one who found yesterday’s revelations too distasteful to ignore under the guise of “what another man does in the bedroom doesn’t impact me.” I guess even the toughest people to offend have their breaking point. Tiger is less than human, he’s a corporate entity who’ll drive his Escalade right over you if there’s a dollar on the other side of the road (especially when he’s high off one of those Ambien/Vicodin cocktails).
The interest in Tiger’s comeback will be fierce and golf will enjoy a nice bump in ratings and interest, but it will be hollow. I was hardly in the minority back when I hoped Tiger would beat the field every weekend, whether consciously or subconsciously, and I doubt I’m alone in reaching my breaking point after yesterday. But who else on the PGA Tour is worth rooting for?
Phil Mickelson is a doughy “everyman” kind of guy, even though reports are that he’s just as phony as Tiger and pretty much a dick himself (although he seems to at least have some sort of affinity for his wife).
All the other good golfers are foreign or boring (or both).
What the PGA Tour needs isn’t just a golfer with the skills Tiger has, but a guy with the entire package. Racially, nobody will approach Tiger, since I am pretty sure his blood contains DNA from every ethnicity on the planet. But that doesn’t matter as much anymore. Due to otherworldly skill and perfect timing, Tiger broke through the sort of country club barrier that nobody will ever have to — or be able to — again.
No, what the first true Tiger Killer will need are these things:
1. Youth — Why did everybody care about Sergio Garcia before it became clear that he is as mentally stable as one of the guys on Tool Academy? Because he was young, he had upside, blah, blah, blah… It doesn’t matter what Steve Stricker does, because he’s 43. What do we get with Stricker, a few more great years and then he’s off to the Champions Tour? No, what the world wants is somebody who, like Tiger, tears through the amateur scene to the point where we hear him coming before he even hits the tour. Like a golf version of Jason Heyward.
2. American Citizenship — Sorry, but as a nation we either hate foreign golfers or simply don’t care.
3. Muscles — Tiger’s not exactly the most handsome man in the world; his teeth are gigantic, his hair is thinning (or, lately, plugging). However, his body is pretty much the male ideal: 6’2″, broad-shouldered, well-proportioned. I’d be shocked if these PED accusations floating around Tiger don’t get juicier (pun intended) over the next couple years, after seeing he looks when he wears those a-little-too-tight technical golf shirts on (you know, the ones where his high beams are showing just enough to make everyone a little uncomfortable). But the fact remains that we like our athletes to look like ATHLETES, not Davis Love III. Watching Tiger stomp around the course during a close tournament is physically intimidating for the people watching on TV; just think of what it’s like for his opponents. If we have any hope for golf’s future (other than Tiger continuing to dominate, and since he shot a 68 today, that’s what it looks like we’re facing already), we need a guy who looks like he could beat the living crap out of Tiger in a fight. This is why Anthony Kim won’t be stepping into his shoes anytime soon (too short). Maybe Dustin Johnson can if he starts an HGH (oops, I mean “plasma therapy”) regimen, but that’s doubtful.
You can say, “Hey, what if some skinny dude from Malaysia or somewhere comes in and starts destroying the field at every tournament, including Tiger?” Well, I guess that would work, but it’s just too unrealistic. For all we now know about Tiger, and however that’s changed your perception of him, the one thing we actually knew about Tiger hasn’t changed: he’s still the best golfer on the planet, incapable of abject failure on the course. In life, maybe, but not at Augusta, Pebble or St. Andrews. Will an awful human being succeeding on the golf course be enough to capture our attention? Maybe, but not like before. That’s why the sport of golf better hope for a young buff American who can play some stick like no other, because it’s going to be a lot tougher to sell the Tiger dream now that we know the nightmare he’s wrought on his family, the people who idolized him, and now his neighbor and family name.