You are on your own, Tiger

DURBAN – So, Tiger Woods is in the news again.

Sadly, most of his headlines now are confined to matters off course, and the flame that used to be his career has disintegrated into a faint flicker in the distance. The Tiger will never burn as bright as he did in 2000; that much is certain.

This past week, news emerged of Woods being arrested for driving under the influence. Those who wrote off Tiger since 2009 immediately assumed he was drunk off his head, and probably coming from a wild party.

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Tiger Woods, the 2005 champion, hands 2006 Masters champion Phil Mickelson the coveted Green Jacket. Picture: EPAIn this image taken from video, Tiger Woods stands between two police officers in Jupiter, Florida. Photo: Jupiter Police Department via APJack Nicklaus says Tiger Woods needs help from the golfing community. Photo: Photo: Jay LaPrete, AP

The imagination is allowed to go to the extreme when it’s Tiger these days because, apparently, he deserves everything he gets. He could have been God knows where, with God knows who, doing you know what.

“We know him.” He’s had it coming, apparently.

Each are privy to their own opinion, of course, even if those weighty thoughts and judgments are cast from houses made of the finest glass.

But some of those sticks and stones now seem to have a strong whiff of entitlement, each headline a fresh opportunity to gorge at the exposed underbelly of one of the 20th century’s greatest sport stars.

It is undisputable what Tiger Woods did on the golf course, just as it is indefensible what he did in between tournaments for much of his reign. That latter bit is between him and his ex-wife and kids, and they seem to have worked out a solution. Good luck to them.

Tiger Woods in typical pose after saving par at the 2016 Hero World Challenge in Nassau, Bahamas. Photo: Lynne Sladky, AP

What struck me about the latest Tiger scandal was just how much enjoyment people took out of it.

Last I checked, Tiger Woods didn’t kill anyone. He’s not, dare we say it, Oscar Pistorius.

Heck, Oscar still has a wave of sympathy in some corners of the world.

And yet, Tiger’s every move since his scandal has been on trial. I had no idea police are allowed to release footage of members of the public when they get arrested.

Perhaps it is an American thing, which allows the world to get the popcorn, click a button and revel in seeing a man at his lowest point.

Perhaps it is the age we live in, where there is no such thing as privacy. The one man whose record Tiger Woods was ever interested in, Jack Nicklaus, was the first to offer a helping hand, instead of chuckle and look the other way.

He needs our help, Nicklaus said. The cynics may say it is easier for Nicklaus to be nice to Tiger because he now knows his records are unattainable for him, but that is neither here nor there.

Martin Kaymer also made a public plea for some perspective, saddened by the tone of public reactions around the world.

Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer share a laugh during a trophy presentation after Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2013. Photo: Phelan M. Ebenhack, AP

Woods has clearly been learning who his true friends actually are over the past few years, and that list may be diminishing by the day. The odds are that he may never play at full strength again, never mind win another tournament. 

Each passing surgery suggests that his body is giving up on him, the strain of decades past catching up to him now.

The clarity of that reality may well be his biggest loss, because it may be dawning on him that he will have to fill most of his days with course designs and books that look back in regret, rather than look forward in hope.

There is a tinge of sadness in that, especially when you consider how much this one man did for the sport that now sniggers at his personal woe. He still draws more in endorsements than 90 percent of the pros.

But, for all that money and history, he must now know that just as he walked alone in his prime, he most certainly walks alone now.

Black man, you are on your own.

Sunday Tribune

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