One of Golfs Great Upsets


Golf was witness today to one of its great upsets.

A giant was toppled in the saddest manner.

Who would have thought Y.E. Yang’s PGA Championship victory wouldn’t be remembered as the greatest takedown of Woods this year?

Who would have guessed that it would be Us Weekly taking him down?

It’s a sad day in golf on so many levels.

The gentleman’s game doesn’t seem so gentlemanly with the No. 1 player in the world admitting Wednesday to “transgressions” after Us Weekly published a salacious story about Woods and his relationship with a Los Angeles cocktail waitress. The magazine promotes the story as detailing Jaimee Grubbs’ “31-month fling” with Woods.

“I have let my family down, and I regret those transgressions with all my heart,” Woods said in his statement. “I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not without faults, and I am far short of perfect.”

Woods released the statement on his Web site Wednesday morning after the magazine was scheduled to hit newsstands and after Us Weekly posted a recording on its Web site. The magazine states the recording is a voice mail Woods left for Grubbs three days before Woods crashed his SUV into a fire hydrant and tree in the early morning hours outside his Isleworth mansion last week.

The man in the recording, who sounds like Woods, complains that “my wife went through my phone” and asks the person he is calling “to take your name off your phone . . . just have it as your telephone number.” There’s an unmistakably desperate tone in the caller’s voice.

It’s sad that Woods got himself into this kind of mess. It’s sad that his wife and family will be hurt by it. It’s sad that we’re all leering into their lives through a supermarket celebrity news publication’s expose.

It’s sad for golf, too.

There’s no more grievous sin in golf than cheating.

It’s sad that the player who may one day be remembered as the greatest player ever will also be remembered for cheating in the larger game of life.

It’s sad that we’re reminded in this way that none of us is without sin.

There’s no telling what similar sins the game’s greatest players of the past might have committed because they were spared the probing examinations of today’s highly evolved celebrity news market.

It’s sad also that so many of us are willing to forgive Woods but still aren’t quite sure what we are supposed to forgive.

We know Woods messed up, but the whole episode is such a mess we’re left to believe the Us Weekly story is true because Woods admits to “transgressions” in the wake of the story.

With the National Enquirer making a move last week, and Us Weekly advancing this week, we’re left feeling like Woods only acknowledged “personal sins” because the tabloid press maneuvered him into checkmate.

As mea culpa’s go, Woods falls short, resonates as reluctant, and even contentious.

Americans are quick to accuse, but they’re just as quick to forgive.

The key to that equation is our sense that those who have sinned are remorseful and want our forgiveness.

Woods, though, doesn’t seem interested in forgiveness outside his family. That’s the message that pierces through the five-paragraph statement he released on his Web site. Three of the paragraphs are a defense of his right to privacy and reads like a lashing out at media who exposed his transgressions.

There’s a contentiousness to the message that won’t serve Woods well in his bid to rebuild his image.

Woods makes an argument for the “virtue of privacy” and defends the “important and deep principle” of privacy.

It doesn’t serve Woods well to make arguments for virtue and principles now.

It doesn’t serve him, either, that he makes the acknowledgments in a statement released on his Web site.

Moving on will be easier if we have a moment to move from and that requires more than a statement.

As painful as it can be, there’s a purpose in public men making public acknowledgments of even private mistakes.

As awkward as the David Letterman and Kobe Bryant moments were, they felt like endings, the repentance that precedes forgiveness and a second chance.