Daily Flogging: John Feinstein weighs in on Tiger's travails

Daily Flogging: John Feinstein weighs in on Tiger’s travails

All is quiet on the Tiger Woods front. Or would be if it weren’t for John Feinstein, who weighs in with some perspective as to how this could’ve happened to Tiger, a control freak of the first order. Feinstein wrote a very good piece for The Observer that offers no new information but relies on old anecdotes to paint a clearer picture of Woods.
It’s unclear whether Feinstein also wrote the intro for the story on The Observer’s website, in which he is described as “America’s greatest sportswriter.” Perhaps The Observer should’ve checked with Dan Jenkins, Dave Kindred, Rick Reilly or Frank Deford, among others, before making such a claim. The Feinstein highlights:

about it: at least one of Woods’s affairs had been going on for 31
months before it became public. The most famous athlete on the planet,
arguably one of the most famous people on earth, was carrying
on with a woman in Las Vegas for 31 months and the story never leaked.
It may have almost leaked, there might have been some whispers in the
locker room – and that’s all they ever were because almost everyone in golf
lives in fear of The Wrath of Tiger – but it stayed secret. If nothing
else, Tiger Woods built a wall around himself that was almost
impenetrable. Even now, with the wall broken, his number one goal seems
to be not so much to repair his marriage as to repair his wall.
When an American TV network
made a very bad movie based on his early life 11 years ago, Tiger was
asked at a Masters press conference how it felt to have someone make an
entire movie based on his life at the tender age of 22. In a rare
moment, Tiger let his guard down and allowed his true feelings to show. “To
be honest, it pisses me off,” he said. “It pisses me off that people I
don’t even know are making money off my life. I wish there was some way
to stop them.”

Tiger’s obsession with control extends to those who talk out of turn:

who have been part of the very closed Tiger circle learn quickly that
to talk at all to anyone outside the circle can quickly lead to
expulsion. His first caddie, “Fluff” Cowan, was so friendly and
outgoing that he became a bit of a cult figure on tour after Woods won
his first Masters in 1997. Within two years he was gone. His first
manager, Hughes Norton, enjoyed the give-and-take with the media. By
the end of 1998, he was also gone. Butch Harmon, his first teacher,
also a hail-fellow-well-met, lasted longer because Tiger really felt he
needed him. But after he had won seven majors between 1999 and 2002,
Tiger felt he didn’t need him either. Thanks for the memories, Butch.

How could this whole episode have happened to Tiger?

He did it because he believed he
could do it and no one would catch him and, if someone did somehow
catch him, they wouldn’t dare out him. Put
simply, Tiger never believed any of this could happen to him. And if he
hadn’t fled his house in those early hours of 27 November who knows if
it ever would have happened. Even after the accident, the Woods hubris
was still very much in play: by not talking to the police for three
days he made a non-story into a story. If he’d let the Florida Highway
Patrol into his house the day after the accident, the cops probably
would have left behind the $164 ticket they later issued and been given
a couple of autographed photos for their trouble. Their report would
have reflected whatever Tiger and Elin told them.
Instead, it
began to look like a cover-up almost from the beginning, with IMG
insisting Tiger’s injuries were minor while he literally refused to
show his face in public. Within days, there was blood in the water and
the tabloid sharks circled and pounced.
So now Tiger is the
Invisible Man again – whether he’s hiding out at home or in rehab –
until he decides when to make his not-so-triumphant return to golf… Perhaps he can come back
and dominate golf the way he did for 13 years. It’s a certainty he will
never again be the almost universally beloved figure that he was.

Feinstein also wrote that he expects Woods to return to golf somewhere in Florida so he can tune up for the Masters, although he offered no evidence to support his guess, which is as good as anyone’s regarding Tiger’s plans.

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