What to Believe


I can’t believe what I’m hearing. Not from Tiger Woods. From the talking heads while roaming from network to network. Tiger Woods sincere? Honest? Humble?

“One of the most remarkable public apologies ever by a public figure,” according to ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

Do ... he ... what ... said ... I couldn't form a complete sentence after having that load shoveld on me.

Did I watch a different news conference? Well, not a news conference, since there were no questions allowed. Let’s call it a scripted performance. One with fervor of Ben Stein proportions.

As I sat at home I could not believe what I was listening to. First from Woods, who in no way seemed like a changed man, but the same person we always thought we knew simply reading a very carefully prepared statement. And then from reporters, analysts, players and pundits who just wanted to give him a hug and a pat on the back.

I saw no emotion, just choreographed motions. Rehearsed deep breaths and stern looks at the cameras. William Hurt was more heartfelt in “Broadcast News.”

Woods didn’t need to cry Friday in order to appear sincere, but how do you not at least get choked up when you speak of letting down your children?

Fifteen feet from my girls’ bedroom, as they lay asleep for their morning nap, I listened to Woods for 13 minutes. Never before, not even when lurid details emerged from his private life over the last three months have I been more disappointed in this man.

Forget about the fact that this was not a Q&A. Forget about the fact that most of the roughly 40 people in attendance were hand selected for support. This was a chance for Woods to win over the millions watching on TV. And that’s what he wanted – or at least wanted us to believe he wanted – closing his speech with, “I ask you to find room in your heart to one day believe in me again.”

To believe that he was a different person than the one we had come to know recently and closer to the one we thought he was before last Thanksgiving.

If first impressions leave a lasting impression, then that's going to be a tough sell – at least for me.

For 13 minutes, Woods took time to apologize to his family, his fans, his business partners and “kids all around the world.” He denied accusations of domestic violence, praised his wife, chastised the media and made no assertions as to when he would return to competition.

He admitted “irresponsible behavior,” infidelity and multiple affairs. He called himself a cheater. He blamed only himself.

He vowed to return to his Buddhist roots, to become more spiritual, and, above all else, to become a better man.

For the most part, he said the right things. It was just the manner in which he said them.

For 13 minutes Woods talked and never did it seem as if it came from his heart, but rather from his well-paid “people.” He was robotic. He was calculating.

He was who he has always been.

He was Tiger Woods, the professional. The man who calmly and icily stares down an opponent until he blinks, whether that opponent be man or addiction – not that he ever did use the word addiction or say for what he was in rehab for 45 days.

It would have been nice to see Tiger Woods, the human, because this isn’t just a golf story; it’s a human-interest story – one that reaches far beyond this sport.

But, as we were reminded, when Woods is in control he lets you know what he wants you to know, see what he wants you to see, and hear what he wants you to hear.

That hasn’t changed. And I believe, deep down, neither has Tiger.