Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Where does Tiger Woods go from here?

Now that Tiger Woods has publicly confessed to his transgressions, where does he go from here?

It had to be incredibly difficult for Woods to release the statement he did today, essentially admitting that what the gossip magazines and celebrity stalkers have been suggesting is true. He is a proud man and, as he said in his initial statement after the auto accident, he is embarrassed. Probably more than any of us can appreciate.

Image agents and brand builders can talk about the damage to the Tiger Woods brand, and there will be some of that for sure. It was so carefully crafted and so polished that it can't help but be dented by the events of the past few days.

People - fans and critics - will never look at him in quite the same way.

Sadly, the same may be said of his family. The personal cost may be far greater than the commercial cost.

But he is still Tiger Woods and once the storm has passed and golf has resumed, he'll go back to being Tiger Woods the golfer. Eventually, the story will become his quest to break Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 professional major championships.

There has always been an almost otherworldly view of Tiger. He cultivated it, using his mental and physical skills to create an aura that helped him win golf tournaments. He has always seemed different in an almost imposing way.

Now, he seems terribly human.

It's clear now why Woods was reluctant to offer more details about what happened at 2:30 a.m. last Friday. Beyond the legal issues related to his accident, it's evident there wasn't much he could truthfully say without making the matter more uncomfortable.

It reached a point, however, where he couldn't escape the storm. There's a whole argument to be made about the bottom-feeding style of journalism practiced by gossip sellers, but Tiger can only blame himself.

If we've learned anything the past few years about athletes and celebrities and their failings, it's that we'll eventually forgive them if they'll come clean. Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire apparently still haven't figured that out.

Tiger has always kept his fans at a comfortable distance. It would be wise of him to engage them more when he returns to the golf course. Smile more. Bump a few more fists. Let them touch you.

People admire Woods and they want to love him. They may be disappointed in him right now, but he can win them back.

He's shown us he's not perfect. He's told us he's sorry. What we see from him from now on may tell us more than we ever knew before.