If you can call it a good day when your neighbors hire an attorney and he holds a news conference to say that it did not look like your wife had bashed you in the face with a golf club before you drove into a fire hydrant and a tree . . .
If you can call it a good day when the New York Post runs a two-page spread in which a woman you were alleged to have been seeing vehemently denies an extramarital affair with you . . .
If you can call it a good day when the Florida Highway Patrol calls a news conference to announce they are issuing you a traffic citation for careless driving . . .
The bottom line Tuesday is that Woods’ legal problems appear to be over. That was the good news.
“We are pleased with the outcome,” Woods’ attorney, Mark NeJame told GolfChannel.com. “Other than that, I have no further comment, except that it is over.”
NeJame emphasized the words “it is over.”
The Florida Highway Patrol emphatically stated that the investigation is complete, and they will not pursue any other charges.
Orange County Sheriff’s officials, who also have jurisdiction, said Tuesday that they are not investigating and have no plans to do so.
The penalty Woods will pay for driving his SUV into a fire hydrant and a tree outside his Isleworth mansion early Friday morning amounts to a $164 traffic ticket, four points posted on his driving record and whatever damage and insurance costs he’s liable to pay.
We don’t know the larger price Woods is paying, the frustration of being the focus of such an intense attempt to breach the walls of the personal life he so fiercely guards.
Is it over? The police are done investigating, but the story threatens to linger with so many media outlets that do not normally cover golf still doing their own investigating. Yet another supermarket tabloid is threatening to release a story Wednesday that won’t make Woods look good.
This legal matter is over, but there’s the court of public opinion Woods must contend with as he eventually makes his way back into the limelight.
There’s still the question of what really happened that night and the fiercely divided opinion over what we do and don’t have a right to know.
To be sure, Woods has a wealth of supporters, those who believe nothing about the crash opens a door for our leering into his personal matters. There’s strong sentiment to leave him alone, that what happened between he and his wife is none of anyone’s business.
There are others who wonder whether they would have received the same traffic citation and been investigated the same if they had been found going in and out of consciousness while lying in the road beside an automobile they had crashed at 2:25 a.m.
“Despite the celebrity status of Mr. Woods, the Florida Highway Patrol has completed its investigation in the same professional manner it strives to complete each traffic crash investigation,” FHP Sgt. Kim Montes said. “Although our approach may vary depending on the circumstances, Mr. Woods’ status in no way impacted our investigation results or conclusions.”
Of course, Woods’ celebrity status impacts the media investigation in every way.
If Woods were running for president, for any political office, or if he were benefiting in some way espousing family values, the digging that’s going on into Woods’ domestic life might seem noble, but nothing about the digging here feels noble.
Tom Watson said earlier this year that the responsibilities of starting a family, the contentment money brings and injury were the greatest threats to Woods as he bids to overtake Jack Nicklaus’ record for most professional major championship victories. There’s something else. There’s the burden of fame. It’s growing larger for Woods in all of this. While it seems nothing will stop his quest to be remembered as the greatest player ever, Woods might not linger around long after breaking Nicklaus’ mark. He may disappear more quickly than we ever expected to find the privacy he so relishes.
Now that will probably seem like a really good day to Woods, a great escape with Nicklaus’ record.