The Masters was this weekend, and even for those of you who don’t like golf, there was enough emotional intrigue to keep tongues a-wag-wag-waggin’. Foremost amongst my sport-minded friends was the following interview Tiger Woods gave to Bill Macatee after his last round, with the leaders yet to finish [thanks, jon! -ed.]:
Taken by itself, this vaguely uncomfortable moment doesn’t seem like much, but for a fan base that is dying for Tiger to show some contrition after a year of some pretty grisly revelations, it just feels like he’s just a dick after all.
I feel like I knew dudes like this in my latter days in Chapel Hill. Their reputations were so impermeable (in both a good way and a bad way) that they had made the inner calculation that it no longer mattered how they behaved, because the end result would be the same. One of my housemates (no, not you) was such a well-documented [insert personal flaw here] that he started being more and more brazen about it… he figured that he might as well keep doing it on the off-chance he’d get what he wanted, since he’d be called a [insert personal flaw here] regardless.
Many of you who knew me back in the heady mid-’90s may think I’m talking about myself, but I had the terrible flaw of actually caring what people thought about me, which turned many of my nights into a cavalcade of misery. I would have been much better off not giving a shit, but I was doubly cursed; I gravitated toward reprehensible behavior and I didn’t have the balls to brazen it out. But I digress.
Tiger Woods – as an untreated borderline narcissist – must figure it really doesn’t matter anymore. The public has already seen all his texts, already knows his private predilections. He might as well behave however the fuck he wants, and in theory, I agree with him.
But what he fails to grasp is that America’s attention span is gnat-like, and he could rehabilitate his image in 18 months. Hell, so could Lindsay Lohan, who, like Tiger, possesses an undeniable talent in her chosen field. I’m always amazed when certain ex-heroes fall from grace, and continue to do something incredibly stupid every 6 weeks, as though they need to feed the dickhead meter before the rehab cops come to give them a clean bill of health.
Certainly Tiger owes us nothing, and if he wants to respond to a bunch of dumbass questions with a disdainful snort, more power to him. He can tell Nike and Electronic Arts and Titleist to suck it, and rest on well-earned laurels and millions of dollars. However, America needs heroes and comeback stories almost as much as it needs cheeseburgers and oil. With a dose of humility and a laser-like refocus, he could be Tiger Woods again. Like Benjy Stone said to Alan Swann in My Favorite Year, “don’t tell me this is you ‘life-size’. I can’t use you ‘life-size’!”
Mark Linn-Baker and Peter O’Toole in “My Favorite Year”