Tiger Woods came back out of his underground therapy cave yesterday to take a practice round at Augusta National and hold a press conference. And not only did Woods make it through the entire day without any new accusations of illicit affairs, but he looked downright HAPPY in his surroundings. And it was evident from the events of the day that, merely by returning to the setting of a golf course, Woods’ public troubles have already begun to dissipate.
Privately, of course, Woods is still likely in a world of hurt, and likely to stay there for life eternal. But as far as public obsession goes with his assorted sexual dalliances, it’s clear that, by the end of this week, many people around the world will think of Woods for his golfing ability, and very little else.
You saw this coming. In the course of all his public statements and miniature interviews in the wake of the scandal, Woods had done little to take the focus off his behavior and bring closure to the matter. There was only going to be one way to get people off the subject, and that was to pick up a golf club. The second he did that yesterday, the entire conversation shifted, and you could tell that it boosted Woods’ spirits immeasurably.
Woods has long been something of a control freak. He’s fiercely guarded his public image and everything else surrounding him, including anyone who dares snap a camera ten seconds before he begins his backswing. Part of the fun (and let’s face it, it was kinda fun) of this whole sex scandal has been watching Woods squirm in the face of realizing he has absolutely NO control over the consequences of his affairs. It’s something most of us learn at a far earlier age than Woods: Life doesn’t work out as planned, and there’s little use in trying to force it to do so.
To see Woods at Augusta yesterday was to see him, at last, back in a situation where he had absolute control. Over his club selection. Over his ball. Over his swing. He used to feel like he could control everything, but THIS is all he has left. And it showed. In a way, it’s kind of sad.
But it certainly won’t seem that way when the guy is eight strokes under come Sunday.