Something of a Soap Opera

It's been a saga that nobody saw coming, but as juicy a story as it is, should we fear 
for the future of golf's greatest asset? Bill Elliott reflects on the woes of Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods' Florida home

Psst! Wanna know a secret? Promise not to tell? Okay, now we've agreed that, let me reveal that I know absolutely nothing more than you about the Tiger Woods crash/scandal/marital bust-up stuff.

So, to sum up: Tiger left his house at 2.25am, hit a fire hydrant, bounced into a tree and was rescued by his wife who first belted his car's rear window with what is said to have been a 5-iron. Our hero was treated in hospital for minor injuries before being allowed home. Then a scary woman who is a Major (they have Majors?) in the Florida Highway Patrol popped up to tell us that Woods was being fined for careless driving. She did this while wearing inappropriate earrings and a daft hat.

This was the easy bit for Tiger because the world's media meanwhile was quoting all sorts of salacious stuff generated by celebrity websites. Thus did a series of reports about big arguments, alleged domestic violence and liaisons with various attractive young women make their way onto TV and into print all over the world. Tiger did not help himself by hiding at home for days before issuing an apology to everyone (but especially to his wife and family). He then asked for some peace - but he must know that he won't get it.

Naturally, he will hate this intrusion although he must also accept that it is his disappointing behaviour that has invited it. The fact is that riding alongside his desire for overwhelming success has always been a desperate urge to seek anonymity when not on a course or making an ad for Gillette or Nike - or one of his other blue-chip sponsors. As ambitions go, these, of course, are seriously incompatible targets.

The big point here for those of us who follow golf with more than superficial interest is that Tiger may reach a tipping point sooner rather than later and decide that he is going to walk away from the game that made his life possible.

An unlikely conclusion maybe, but still possible to imagine. After all he hardly needs the money any more and there are many interesting things he could do with his time other than to hunt down Jack Nicklaus' 18 Majors. Maybe he can imagine life without golf or maybe he can't but, for the good of the game, we may only hope that he and his wife sort things out and that he then gets on with playing again.

We may also hope that when he eventually emerges in 2010, he does so as at least a slightly humbled figure and one who remembers how to smile more as well as how to interact properly with an audience he increasingly alienated with his behaviour in 2009. We'll see.

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Editor At Large

Bill has been part of the Golf Monthly woodwork for many years. A very respected Golf Journalist he has attended over 40 Open Championships. Bill  was the Observer's golf correspondent. He spent 26 years as a sports writer for Express Newspapers and is a former Magazine Sportswriter of the Year. After 40 years on 'Fleet Street' starting with the Daily Express and finishing on The Observer and Guardian in 2010. Now semi-retired but still Editor at Large of Golf Monthly Magazine and regular broadcaster for BBC and Sky. Author of several golf-related books and a former chairman of the Association of Golf Writers. Experienced after dinner speaker.