might be stubborn and he might be arrogant, but he is not stupid.Which makes it all the more dumbfounding what he is doing right now.
It’s one thing to cheat on
your wife and make an ass of yourself doing it.Whether it happened in this case, I have no idea.But, hey, it happens -- it happens to ordinary people,
politicians, movie stars and rich, famous athletes.The one constant is our demonstrated capacity to forgive and forget.
What people will not forgive
and forget, however, is what Tiger seems to be doing now – thumbing his nose at the Florida cops,
refusing to cooperate with their investigation, essentially telling them to
read what he’s got to say on his website, like everybody else.
Bad, bad move.His slick, high-priced
lawyer might be advising Tiger that he has the legal right to do that, but he is doing
himself a world of PR damage in the process, smearing his carefully constructed
When it comes to crisis
management, PR consultants never waver in their advice: Get the bad news out there and out there
quick, take your lumps, then move on.
In other words, make your screw-up a
one-day or two-day story, whatever it is. DO NOT let it play out like a slow-motion train wreck in the blood-thirsty,
media environment we live in these days.Hey, they’ve time and space to fill and they will – with you or without you.
What Tiger is doing now makes him come off
like he thinks he is above the law, answerable to no one -- not even to the
cops -- immune to criticism and able to live quite comfortably, thank you, in
cocoon he has constructed for himself.
Four days into this PR fiasco
of his own making we are beginning to see a backlash, certainly in the general
media, and now even among sports columnists, who in the past mostly heaved
bouquets in Tiger’s
direction.Take a look here,
and especially here,
a delicious screed in which Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post accuses him of acting like
some kind of separate nation state, like the Vatican.Of course, the longer Tiger stonewalls, the worse it will
In some ways, this backlash
is not surprising.From the
earliest days of his career, Tiger let it be known that commanding respect and fear meant more to him than popularity.Let Phil Mickelson be popular.
The result, as Tiger is
now finding out, is that while we are all in awe of him and his golfing
abilities, he hasn’t built up a reservoir of affection and goodwill.
How ironic that in the brief
did release, he felt the need to point out that he is not perfect.Really?Isn’t that precisely the image he has worked so hard to project
for these years?
Personally, I hope this
imbroglio does not turn out to be the undoing of Tiger.He is a once-in-a-lifetime talent and not a bad guy at all who has a lot
more career ahead of him.Wouldn’t
it be nice if he came to his senses, did the right thing, then got back to the
business of rewriting golf’s record books.
So let me get this
straight:Only hours after the National
Enquirer hits the grocery store checkout lines with a story alleging that Tiger Woods
is running around on his wife, one of the most coordinated athletes in the
history of sports crashes his SUV into a fire hydrant leaving his house, then
plows into a tree in his next door neighbor’s yard – at low speed, alcohol not a factor.
At 2:25 a.m., in the wee
hours after Thanksgiving.
And his wife, Elin, is
not far behind – with a golf club in her hand.
Is it just me or do you also
believe the charmed life if the No. 1 golfer in the world is about to get less
I know, I know, over the
coming days Tiger
and his small, smart circle of advisors are going to do everything possible to
smooth over this little, shall we say, bump in the super highway that has his
life to date.
They will likely offer
explanations for everything -- explanations that many of us will want to
believe about the heretofore squeaky clean former nerd.But um, ah, good luck trying to
put this leggy and sultry genie back in the bottle, Tiger.
Already, of course, the
gossipy celebrity-oriented websites (and even mainstream media outlets) are
howling with all kinds of reports:That Elin
about the story in the National Enquirer; that she, not the crash, caused the scratches
and lacerations on his face; that Tiger was essentially fleeing the house when Elin came
out swinging the golf club, trying to tee up her husband.
Plausible, all of it.
As it happens, on Thanksgiving
Day, when I stumbled across the first whiff of the National Enquirer story on the internet, I
drove straight to the nearest grocery store and bought a copy.Headlined "Tiger Woods Cheating Scandal," the story
is stripped across the top of the tabloid.
Inside, in a two-page
spread, the Enquirer
identifies the alleged mistress Rachel Uchitel, who it describes as a
York party girl" with a "reputation for dating married celebrities."
The Enquirer reports that Uchitel,
who works as an events planner, was previously involved with "Bones" star David Boreanaz during his wife’s
pregnancy but that she ended the relationship in August.By then, said the Enquirer, Uchitel was already bragging to her
friends that she was involved with Tiger.
The tabloid quotes a
supposed friend of the mistress’, Ashley Samson, as saying Uchitel told her she met Tiger in
May at a club in New York where she was working.She gave him her phone number and, by June, she told Samson, "Tiger Woods is
blowing up my cell phone with messages."
The most damaging
accusations in the story come for Samson and another supposed friend of Uchitel,
who the Enquirer
says both passed lie detector tests.Here are pertinent excerpts from the story:
"I’m sure Tiger thinks Rachel is staying quiet about their
affair, but she’s told lots of people," Ashley Samson – a close friend of Rachel who
passed a polygraph test – told The ENQUIRER.
"Rachel told me,’ I’m having an affair with Tiger Woods.We’re in love!"
"I’ve heard him while she was talking
to him, and recognized his voice.They kept saying stuff like, ÔI miss you so much! I love you."
"The first time I heard about Tiger from Rachel was
when she got a phone call and said, "Oh, it’s Tiger.I’ve got to take this." I asked, "Tiger?" She said, "Tiger Woods."
The Enquirer reports that when Tiger recently
played in (and won) the Australian Masters, Uchitel also turned up in Melbourne at the
same time and checked into the same posh hotel in which the golfer was
staying.The tabloid presents a
photo that it says is Uchitel checking into the hotel, but it’s too grainy to say for
sure whether it is her or not.
When confronted, reports the
insisted she was in Melbourne on business, that she was there with her
boyfriend, and denied carrying on an affair with Tiger.Later, the tabloid said, she changed her story about
traveling with a boyfriend but said she was in town on business.
The tabloid said Tiger’s
attorney also "vehemently denied the affair."
Later, the Enquirer
told friends, "It
was a nightmare!The Enquirer
followed me to Australia, and I only got to spend one day with Tiger..."
In the hours since Tiger’s
accident, several reporters have reached Uchitel for further comment.She has again denied any affair with Tiger.She also said Samson is not a friend but a woman she
has barely knows, who was paid $25,000 by the tabloid.
You buying any of this?
All I know is that I can’t
wait for Tiger’s
next press conference.
Slim and none. Slim just left town. He will be a no show.He claims "headaches." He will have them for a long time to come.
[11/29/2009 6:15:59 PM]
And I thought Tiger was leaving the house at 2:25am to go to Best Buy and wait in line so he could get a new laptop at a bargain price.
In light of his statement today on his website and his not talking to police, which by the way he is not required to do,what are the odds that he’ll show up in LA and play in his tournament next week?
The hard lessons Stu Ingraham has learned at Q-School
For Stu Ingraham,
the dream of making the Champions Tour next season has given way to reality.
Despite his best efforts at Q-School,
currently underway in Scottsdale, Ariz., a Top 5 finish and a full exemption for 2010 is
not going to happen, nor will there be "conditional" status for finishing between 6th
in the field of 78.
Tied for 40th
through three of four rounds, at best, if he shoots 66 or 67 in Friday’s fourth and final round,
he’ll crack the Top 30, meaning he can Monday qualify for Champions Tour events.It’s not what the six-time Player of the
Year in the Philadelphia PGA Section had hoped for but, as he said yesterday,
"I didn’t embarrass myself."
Ingraham, former longtime head pro at Overbrook Golf Club who now teaches at M Golf Range
in Newtown Square, got off to a good start this week.In a field full of graying PGA Tour pros gunning for a new leases
of life, Ingraham shot 2-under 69 in his first round at TPC
Scottsdale’s Champions Course, tying him for 23rd.
His downfall was the second
round, when he shot 3-over 74 and more or less had a meltdown after a ruling by a rules
official that he believed was dead wrong and damaging to his chances.
It came at the 10th
hole, when his approach shot plugged in its own pitch mark above a bunker
– or at least he thought it did.Before dislodging the ball, Ingraham consulted his playing
partner, who wasn’t so sure it was plugged.
They called over a rules
official, who also wasn’t convinced the ball was plugged in its own pitch mark.
"I said, "Oh, I get it, my
last name is Ingraham, it’s not Curt Byrum or
he said, naming a couple of Tour pros in the field."I was so mad, I couldn’t see straight.So, now I chunk it, make 5 there, bogey the next hole and
lose a ball on 13."
After a night’s rest to cool
off, and despite a balky putter the next day, Ingrahammanaged to
69 again Thursday, for a 1-under total through three rounds.But it’s too little, too late.
Still three months shy of
his 50th birthday, the obvious question is what Ingraham
learned this week that might serve him well in a second run at the Champions Tour
"What I have learned is that
when I’m playing good, I am as good as them," he said. "I hit it farther.But when I struggle with my putter, or
when I hit a couple of bad shots, I tend to not score, where they grind it out.
"They’llshoot even par or even 2-under when
they aren’t doing anything special, where I might shoot 2- or 3-over.You can’t do that.That’s what I’ve learned."
shot 74 in the final round,
finishing tied for 46th.
When I read my colleague John Huggan’sscreed
Stories) about Tiger Woods’ lackluster performance in the interview room at the Australian
Masters, I laughed out loud.
I agree totally with Huggan,
a blunt-spoken Scot.Sometimes,
it’s almost as if Tigerwants to be a bore bordering on boorish.
With a golf club in his
is the best, now or ever.You’ll
get no argument here.He’s
an artist, a magician, a golfing Hercules -- and the hardest-working man I’ve
But put a microphone in his
hand, or a camera in front of him, and this man of steel too often morphs into a mealy-mouthed
I cannot tell you how many
times over the years I have walked out of a Tiger press conference shaking my head,
trying to think of something he said – anything – worth quoting.The guy can shoot a 64 that is
a work of artto seize the lead in a major championship, only to put you to sleep
describing it in his post-round press conference.
And that’s on the easy
stuff!Try to pin him down on a
truly controversial issue or topic – race, politics or, say, whether he
National Golf Club should admit a woman member and this tiger
becomes a lamb.
Contrast that to the closest
thing he has to a rival these days, Phil Mickelson.Phil is as bold with a microphone in
his hand as he is with a wedge.He’s smart, quick with a one-liner and he fears no topic.Ask Phil the tough question, then get ready
to take notes.Best of all, Phil is
willing to show you he’s human, whether its talking about his wife’s breast
cancer or his often futile efforts to tame Tiger.That’s part of what makes Phil such an appealing character and fan
Not Tiger. He’s super-human on the golf
course and almost too perfect off it.Mr. Invulnerable.Personal
stuff?Don’t bother asking,
because you won’t get much.He is
the master of speaking for 20 minutes and revealing nothing.
Of course, from Tiger’s
perspective, why should he say or do anything remotely controversial?To do so would only potentially
jeopardize the open spigot of money that pours in from his corporate sponsors
-- more than $100
million a year.But would it
kill him to be a little colorful or off-the-cuff?
lack of candor and lack of effort wouldn’t be so frustrating if he was just
some dumb jock.But he is
not.He’s quite bright.He was always an outstanding student,
including the two years he spent at Stanford before turning pro.
And if you hang around the
golf circuit long enough, you get to see glimpses of Tiger in a more relaxed mode --- enough
to know that he does indeed have insights into and fully-formed opinions about
things, even if he won’t share them.He’s nobody’s fool.
He adopted the zipped-lip policy,
if you will recall, in the wake of a story in Esquire magazine soon after he turned
pro.The youthful Tiger told a few off-color jokes, which turned
up in the story.The writer wanted
to show that Tiger
did indeed have a lighter side; Tiger
was more concerned with guarding his image.
Shocked, and apparently
feeling betrayed, Tiger learned his lesson.Never again.Since then, no
more hanging-out-with-Tiger stories.He does
formal press conferences during which he is cordial, if guarded, and never
That’s not to say there isn’t
the occasional lapse or misstep, mainly because Tiger is always "on."Remember a few weeks ago, at the first
of the FedEx
Cup playoffs, the Barclays at Liberty National Golf Club in the shadow of the Statue of
More than a few of the
players made snarky comments about the course, which was designed by former U.S. Open
Kite. Tiger was no exception, although his
criticisms were not made publicly but rather in a off-the-cuff remarks during
to a business executive during the pro-am.
"Maybe Tom did this course before his eye
operation," Tiger reportedly joked, referring to Kite’s laser surgery.
When the executive blabbed
to the media, Tiger’s
joke that was the most cited quote all week.Everybody loved it.Everybody except Tiger.
I was on the phone with my
Silverman this morning when the conversation suddenly turned to one of the
stories currently featured on MyPhillyGolf – namely, Links
Series of Golf: Philly vs. New York City.
"Totally bogus comparison,"
who grew up on Long
Island but has lived in Chadds Ford for years.
Agreed.For one thing, where does Links
magazine even get off counting Shinnecock Hills or National Golf Links as New York City
courses?They are both so far out
on the tip of Long
Island, they shouldn’t count.
For that matter, since when
National, hard by the South Jersey shore, a Philadelphia course?The South Jersey Shore is a whole separate world of golf.
Another beef.In its match-ups, why would Links
compare an A.W.
Tillinghast classic like Quaker Ridge to a modern Tom Fazio
layout like Galloway,
giving the edge to Quaker Ridge?That’s
comparing apples and oranges?For
a more apt comparison, how about Quaker Ridge vs. another Tillinghastclassic,
Cricket? Silverman and I agree that’s a draw.
You want more?If Links is going to call Shinnecock Hills and National Golf
Links New York City courses, how about Philadelphia gets to include Saucon Valley in Bethlehem, a
Top 100 course in on everybody’s list,
Country Club, a William Flynn gem that’s also a frequent Top 100 course?Either of those courses would fare well
in any comparisons to Baltusrol, Quaker Ridge or Somerset Hills.
Come to think of it, if Links is
going to put Shinnecock Hills and National Golf Links in the NYC orbit,
why not call Somerset
Hills a Philadelphia
course? Somerset Hills, after all, is closer to
City Hall (75.2 miles) than Shinnecock Hills is to New York’s City Hall (91.5 miles).
On the day that the LPGA named
marketing executive Michael Whan as its new commissioner, I
happened to be chatting up a very plugged-in source down at the Jersey Shore.
Any stirrings about bringing
back the late, great ShopRite LPGA Classic, a fan favorite 21 years until it died in 2006, I
As a matter of fact, he
said, "It’s within the realm of possibility."
According to my source,
nothing is close to being signed, sealed or delivered, but there are ongoing conversations
about possibly bringing back the ShopRite.He said that Seaview Marriott, the ShopRite’s final venue, is apparently willing
and able; and ShopRite,
which is now a secondary presenting sponsor of the Sybase Classic outside New York City,
has been approached and is listening.
If the ShopRite is revived, it would be
Harrison, who ran it for years.They have moved on, as have their old tournament staffers.This is new blood that is trying to
rejuvenate the ShopRite
All of this should come as
good news to Whan, the incoming commissioner.After the dreadful four-year reign of Carolyn Bivens—she killed the old ShopRite, by the way – Whan
is being handed a tournament schedule for 2010 that has fewer than 20 events
The situation is so bad for
that one recent story in a prominent golf magazine reported that an alarming
number of players are exploring opportunities on other tours, such as in Japan.
Again, bringing back the ShopRite is
only preliminary discussions, but at least there are discussions.Details as they develop.
The biggest non-story of the
day, maybe the week, was splashed across the bottom half of the New York Times
on Sunday, in a box no less.
Under a two-column headline
that read: "Man’s
World at White House?No Harm, No
Foul, Aides Say," accompanied by a photo of President Obama taking a jumper in a
pick-up basketball game, the Times proceeded to foist upon the reading public the following
Our athletic, sports-crazy
president has failed to include a woman in either his "high-level" regular
hoops games or any of the 23 rounds
of golf he
has played since taking office nine months ago.
There is nothing I hate more
than reading a story that makes me set aside a newspaper and say to myself, "So
this is why people hate the media..."
But I did just that yesterday
reading that piece.
Of all the things that President Obama
and we citizens have to worry about – you don’t need me to review the
list here – the failure to include women in White House basketball games or his
occasional foursome is not one of them.
Ironically, this criticism
comes not from the far right, which hammers him on plenty of other matters, but
rather from what the Times said were
advocates and liberal bloggers."
Aside from stewing in my own
juices that some people actually worry about this kind of stuff, and that the Times saw
fit give to give it credence by giving it prominent front page play, I resent
seeing golf dragged
into this quagmire
of petty political
Golf didn’t do anything wrong.Once again, our beloved game has been made to look bad by association,
like when snooty
country clubs snub potential members because they are of a certain race, creed,
gender or religion.Or when we see that repugnant photo of
addicted golfer Rush Limbaugh sucking on that enormous phallic cigar.Or when some yahoo marches confidently
to the first tee dressed in bright yellow knickers, a black and yellow striped cashmere sweater and a black Ben Hogan
cap, completely unaware that he looks like a bumble bee, not a golfer, and
that heis an embarrassment to the