Tiger Blues

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This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and this The Score.

The shock waves emanating from this week's Tiger Woods fiasco are loud indeed…and growing. Tiger tried to retreat to silence so that only theoretical conjectures have swirled since he crashed his car last week, evidently after some sort of marital dispute with his wife. But when Tiger was backed into a fox hole yesterday, by the release of a voicemail message from a third woman he has been connected to sexually, he may not have issued a detailed confession to extramarital affairs, but on his web site he issued a statement saying he regrets his "transgressions" with all his heart. A Vegas socialite named Jaimee Grubbs has released some 300 Tiger voicemails from over the past three years, a sum of pretty darn damning evidence. The one that drew Tiger out of hiding was his voice imploring her to change her name identification on her cell phone to her number only. You clearly discern his desperation in telling her his wife was going to call her any minute and he wanted her to reach a number, not a woman's name. Once this voicemail hit the air waves yesterday, Tiger rushed to fire out a general apology and, in his own words, to admit to "not being true to his values and the behavior his family deserves".

So far, his cadre of multi-million-dollar sponsors, among them NIKE, Gilette, Gatorade, AT&T, and EA Sports, have all issued statements saying their faith in the superstar has not wavered, they wish him a speedy recovery from his personal problems, and they all look forward to seeing their cash magnet back out on the golf course. Well, Tiger's multitude of fans have been weighing in from every possible degree of the moral compass, but the issue for me is his refusal to even appear, much less play, at his very own charity tournament this weekend, the Chevron World Challenge. The tournament funnels serious dollars to the Tiger Woods Foundation, the foundation whose work toward giving kids a chance to pursue excellence in all sorts of endeavors, is as much Tiger's future legacy as his stature as the greatest golfer who ever lived.

So he doesn't want to talk about the car accident. He doesn't want to address the alleged affairs. These are all deeply private issues he feels should remain within the confines of his home. Personally, I'm OK with that. Just as I didn't care one iota if Bill Clinton violated his marriage vows and all that mattered was that he ran the country well, I also could care less if Tiger is an honorable husband or not. I wasn't looking beneath the Clinton foreign policy to ferret out his sexual proclivities. When I watch Tiger storm the 18th green at the Masters, the moment won't be tarnished for me if I know he's an unfaithful liar to his wife.

But if you read his own words from his Foundation manifesto, you tend to raise an eyebrow. Tiger states, "I worked hard and applied my family's values to everything I did. Integrity, honesty, discipline, responsibility and fun. My father and I established the Tiger Woods Foundation to inspire youth, because I believe in passing on the values I received from my parents and teachers."

I wouldn't be so quick to criticize Tiger for these "transgressions" of his, except that he himself says all his success, his very being, is derivative of the integrity and honesty and responsibility ingrained in him in childhood.

And now he won't even show up at his own charity tournament this weekend because he can't bear to face the press and their relentless questions. Where's the integrity and responsibility now?

Besides his wife, his mother, his fans, his friends and his sponsors, I suspect there's another person Tiger is apologizing to at this very moment. That's his deceased father, Earl, whom he constantly thanks for all those crucial values he has now transgressed.

This is Diana Nyad for KCRW, and that's The Score.

Banner image: Tiger Woods (L) answers questions about his week-long Army experience at Fort Bragg, during a press conference after a youth golf clinic. Beside Woods is his father, retired Army Lt. Col. Earl Woods, a former Green Beret who served at Fort Bragg. April 16, 2004



Diana Nyad