Woods goes from great­ness to self-de­struc­tion

New Straits Times - - Sport -

Now they of­fer such a star­tling con­trast that they stand as tes­ta­ments as to how to do things right and wrong.

And so, a week af­ter is­su­ing a state­ment de­tail­ing his de­ter­mi­na­tion not to screw up — his words — af­ter his lat­est back op­er­a­tion, Woods has done pre­cisely that once more.

“It’s the best I’ve felt in years,” he said in the pre­pared re­lease, seven days be­fore the photo show­ing him at his ab­so­lute worst.

For years, the ru­mours have swirled about his ad­dic­tion to painkillers to re­lieve the suf­fer­ing caused by his var­i­ous in­juries.

Af­ter crash­ing into the fire hy­drant near his home on that fate- ful Thanks­giv­ing eight years ago, the wit­ness who pulled him from the car — he or she was never iden­ti­fied — told of­fi­cers he had been pre­scribed two drugs and had been drink­ing.

While we do not know the cir­cum­stances be­hind this lat­est ar­rest, the shock­ing photo will only add sub­stance to the be­lief that Woods’ in­abil­ity to re­cover from var­i­ous back surg­eries and play pro­fes­sional golf again has wreaked a dev­as­tat­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal toll and a search for an­swers that has led him down a cat­a­strophic path.

This week the PGA Tour vis­its Muir­field Vil­lage and a tour­na­ment hosted by Jack Nick­laus, who must have thought he would be spend­ing his dotage talk­ing about Tiger clos­ing in on his all­time ma­jors record, not his stroll down the hall of in­famy.

In Dubai in Fe­bru­ary, at what might well prove to be his last com­pet­i­tive ap­pear­ance, Tiger spoke in graphic de­tail of the weeks spent be­ing un­able to move as he sought to re­cover from each op­er­a­tion in turn.

Imagine what that must have been like for a man who, a decade ear­lier, was so fit he trained with Navy SEALS when he was not train­ing for his own sport.

Ac­tu­ally, that mugshot tells us all we re­ally need to know about what it was like. It speaks vividly of a deeply trou­bled soul with seem­ingly no Plan B as to what to do for the rest of his life.

Woods said an “un­ex­pected re­ac­tion” to pre­scrip­tion medicine — not al­co­hol — was the rea­son for his ar­rest. He said he un­der­stands the sever­ity of the in­ci­dent and takes full re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“I want the pub­lic to know that al­co­hol was not in­volved,” he said. “What hap­pened was an un­ex­pected re­ac­tion to pre­scribed med­i­ca­tions. I didn’t re­alise the mix of med­i­ca­tions had af­fected me so strongly.”

Woods said he wanted to apol­o­gise to his fam­ily, friends and fans, adding that “I ex­pect more from my­self, too.”

“I will do ev­ery­thing in my power to en­sure this never hap­pens again,” he said.

Woods’ state­ments are still lapped up by the Amer­i­can me­dia but it was in­ter­est­ing that last week’s sup­posed progress re­port fol­low­ing fu­sion surgery on his back in April was met with blithe in­dif­fer­ence in Bri­tain.

No­body be­lieves a word any more, and this lat­est de­scent into the nine cir­cles of Hell shows why.

Woods said in his state­ment that he was not able to twist and turn for two months and there was no chance of him play­ing again this sea­son, but he has cer­tainly not lost the abil­ity to make us squirm.

He spoke of ded­i­cat­ing him­self to his re­hab but it seems clear that the next few months must also be spent un­der­go­ing re­hab of a dif­fer­ent kind. The PGA Tour should in­sist on it.

No doubt we will get an­other mea culpa of sorts at some point, just as we did eight years ago, but it re­ally is time, at the age of 41, for Woods to just come out and tell the truth. Af­ter all, the years of ob­fus­ca­tion and de­nial have clearly done him no good whatsover.

In the hours af­ter his ar­rest, there was no com­ment from new s p o n s o r s Ta y l o r M a d e a n d Bridge­stone, his man­ager, Mark Stein­berg, or the PGA Tour. In the case of three of them, they are prob­a­bly in a state of shock like the rest of us.

It would be no sur­prise in the next few days to see Bridge­stone and Tay­lor­Made ac­ti­vat­ing re­lease clauses that are al­ways in­serted into lu­cra­tive sport­ing con­tracts cov­er­ing un­be­com­ing be­hav­iour.

In any case, the like­li­hood of him play­ing again has gone down­hill since he strug­gled to com­plete 18 holes in the first round in Dubai be­fore with­draw­ing af­ter a desperate 77.

It has plum­meted still fur­ther fol­low­ing this lat­est episode, and a pic­ture that hints at so many demons and of­fer­ing a vi­sion of the Amer­i­can dream gone grotesquely askew.

The son of a Green Beret who served two tours of Viet­nam, the fact the ar­rest should hap­pen in the early hours of Me­mo­rial Day in the United States, when the na­tion hon­ours its mil­i­tary, sim­ply added to the sense of poignancy.


File pic­ture of Tiger Woods hold­ing ‘The 1997 Masters: My Story’ on March 20. Inset of Tiger’s mugshot af­ter his ar­rest on Mon­day.

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