Just what we learned when Tiger returned

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By Jeffry Gardner

Tiger Woods returned to golf this past weekend.

As I write this I have no idea how he finished in the Masters, one of the game’s four major championships.  He had a good first day, a decent second day and made the cut. Damn.

Look, at the risk of being called every vile name in the book – including racist – let me say up front that I’d hoped he would tank.  

Because I’m guessing that when all is said and done it’s going to take something far more important to Tiger than having his estranged wife chase him down his driveway with a 9-iron to have him change. Or suffering what, for most of us, would have been shameful public humiliation as the world learned you were not the man you claimed to be.

Golf and golf alone is important to Tiger.  

His wife – estranged wife, whatever – wasn’t.  His kids weren’t either. Neither was his honor. If Tiger’s performance in the Master’s taught us anything, it’s that Tiger’s more machine than human. A very wealthy machine, but a machine in human skin, nonetheless.

There is, sadly, nothing unique about that circumstance. Many husbands and wives care little about their spouses and/or children. Work, career, fame, fortune, trumps serenity for many people. Family life isn’t for everyone. Doesn’t need to be.

But Tiger claimed that wife and kids were part of his whole perfect bliss. Repeatedly.

By now most people are aware of the second chapter of the Tiger Woods story. He’s big on porn stars and family restaurant waitresses. And texting. Tiger’s a texting animal. It’s easy to imagine him sitting in the bosom of his family, maybe watching a Disney DVD, texting away to this or that extra woman while all around him are oblivious loved ones.

Emotionally vacant, Tiger thumbed and forefingered his way into the hearts, perhaps, of more than a dozen women.

One of them, who makes her living being filmed naked and in odd positions and who, in another day and time, would never be proclaimed a celebrity, knew a good thing when she bedded it.

She saved e-mails and texts from Tiger and has been periodically releasing them to various, um, periodicals. And not Stars or Examiners, either.  

Tiger’s tawdry texts have appeared in mainstream papers. After all, who wants to be left out of the loop?

But back to the matter at hand: Tiger tanking.

Golf is paramount in this man’s life – and we can kiss that “young man’s life” phrase away. You cross into your third decade, babe, it’s time to man-up. Tiger’s 34.

When an addict hits bottom, as they say in the vernacular, generally every element of his or her life has gone horribly wrong. They’re emotionally, mentally, and physically damaged – often beyond repair.

Tiger Woods took cover under the popular “I need help. I’ve been a bad wittle boy” excuse American celebrities – from Hollywood to the White House – have wielded ad nausea over the last two decades.

It’s become painfully clichéd. At the same time, we the people have become two parts inured, one part annoyed with these incessant claims. Treatment for drinking, drugs, sex – we’ve heard it all. We let it roll off our backs. It’s as empty any more as a politician’s promise.

What became very clear during the Master’s was that golf fans are as lacking in integrity as German soccer hooligans. Americans have always liked a winner, it’s been said. But we’ve generally wanted our winners to be the complete package – excellent at what they’re doing and excellent people, as well.

That’s no longer the case. Absent any noticeable remorse or any ill effect on his golf game, Tiger’s play and reception at the Masters went a long way toward demonstrating that we’re a people ashamed of, or by, little any more.