Not me. I can't get enough of this stuff. I wore TMZ out over the last four months. MSNBC is running a repeat of "The Secret Life of Tiger Woods?" I'm watching. I think I've watched his press conference/statement/all-time train wreck at least 10 times.
Why am I so into this story? No clue. I usually couldn't care less about this garbage. But the news that Tiger was giving not one but TWO interviews on Sunday night was, for me, Christmas in March.
So let's take a look a what was said. First, ESPN (Tom Rinaldi on the interview) and then the Golf Channel (Kelly Tilghman.) And I have set the odds at the word "clutch" being used at 12-1. "Huge" checks in at 28-1.
Here we go ...
Tom Rinaldi:What's the difference between the man who left Augusta National a year ago and the one who is about to return?
Tiger Woods: A lot has transpired in my life. A lot of ugly things have happened. Things that ... I've done some pretty bad things in my life. And uh, all came to a head. But now, after treatment, going for inpatient treatment for 45 days and more outpatient treatment, I'm getting back to my old roots.
Kirk Minihane: I’d call this a solid start. Admits some mistakes, takes some responsibility. Let me also note that Rinaldi has decided to go with a speaking tone that I would best describe as “James Lipton meets the Zodiac killer.” I’m creeped out. This is fantastic already.
Rinaldi:For a lot of people, the spark of those bad things is Nov. 27. Early that day, what happened?
Woods:Well, it's all in the police report. Beyond that, everything's between Elin and myself, and that's private.
Minihane: Another smart move by Tiger. Who’s going to get around to reading some dopey police report when there are thousands of sext messages on Joslyn James’ website to devour?
Rinaldi: Why did you lose control of the car?
Woods: As I said ... that's between Elin and myself.
Minihane: Fair enough, I guess. I think we can all figure out what happened.
Rinaldi: If it's a private matter, why issue a public apology?
Woods: Well, I owe a lot of people an apology. I hurt a lot of people. Not just my wife. My friends, my colleagues, the public, kids who looked up to me. There were a lot of people that thought I was a different person and my actions were not according to that. That's why I had to apologize. I was so sorry for what I had done.
Minihane: I totally disagree with Tiger here. He owes his wife, mother and kids an apology. That’s it. If anyone else thought that Tiger Woods was a perfect person because he plays golf better than anyone else that ever lived, that person is a moron. If you don’t know by now that these guys are just like us, you’ll never learn.
Rinaldi: You've said you've made transgressions. How would you, in your own words, describe the depth of your infidelity?
Woods: Well, just one is, is enough. And obviously that wasn't the case, and I've made my mistakes. And as I've said, I've hurt so many people, and so many people I have to make an amends to, and that's living a life of amends.
Minihane: It seems weird to me that both guys are standing for this interview. Seems like they are waiting for their luggage at an airport or something. Obviously this was a choice made by Tiger and his people, as the Golf Channel interview had the exact same setup. If Tiger had a sense of humor he would have had played the David Duchovny role in the old Showtime late-night “Red Shoe Diaries,” lying on a bed with a pair of strippers massaging away as Rinaldi fired questions at him.
Rinaldi: You said you were in treatment. The simple question is, for what?
Woods: That's a private matter as well. But I can tell you what, it was tough, it was really tough to look at yourself in a light that you never want to look at yourself, that's pretty brutal.
Minihane: In these 20 seconds Tiger gave me more then he did in that quasi-press conference from a month ago. No question, he seemed like an actual human being really battling with some horrible mistakes in his life. And that’s the first time I can remember ever thinking that about Tiger Woods.
Rinaldi: What'd you see?
Woods: I saw a person that I never thought I would ever become.
Minihane: My daughter, 3 years old, is going through a phase in which she’s terrified that a monster is in her bedroom at night. I think I’m about to start a phase in which I’m terrified that Tom Rinaldi is in my bedroom at night. And just when I was finally getting over my Jim Nantz phase.
Rinaldi: Who was that?
Woods: Well, I had gotten away from my core values as I said earlier. I'd gotten away from my Buddhism. And I quit meditating. I quit doing all the things that my mom and dad had taught me. And as I said earlier in my statement, I felt entitled, and that is not how I was raised.
Minihane: I guess the Buddhism card tested well, because that’s a leftover from the press conference. All I know is that I watched this with six other people, and this was the only time during the interview that anybody laughed. Where was all this Buddhism and meditation stuff from Tiger from, say, 1997-2004? Just seems too convenient.
Rinaldi: Why not seek treatment before all of this came out?
Woods: Well, I didn't know I was that bad. I didn't know that I was that bad.
Minihane: “Because I hadn’t been caught, Tom! What is this, amateur hour? You got five minutes and you ask me that?”
Rinaldi: How did you learn that? How did you learn it?
Woods: Stripping away denial, rationalization. You strip all that away and you find the truth.
Minihane: I know Tiger thinks he has to do these interviews to save some public face and placate the remaining sponsors, but how brutal is this? Has to be just humiliating. By the way, the first 3:42 of this interview also will be known as “the best 3:42 of Phil Mickelson’s life.”
Rinaldi: Given all that's happened, what's your measure of success at Augusta?
Woods: Well, playing is one thing. I'm excited to get back and play. I'm excited to get to see the guys again. I really miss a lot of my friends out there. I miss competing. But still, I still have a lot more treatment to do, and just because I'm playing, doesn't mean I'm going to stop going to treatment.
Minihane: There is an idea floating around that Tiger will crumble under the pressure at Augusta, or that the aura of invincibility around him is gone. I disagree. Now that this burden finally is off his shoulders, I think he’s going to play the best golf of his career. I predict he wins three majors this year.
Rinaldi: What reception are you expecting from fans?
Woods: I don't know. I don't know. I'm a little nervous about that, to be honest with you.
Minihane: Gotta contact the B.S. police on this one, sorry. Have you ever been to a PGA tournament? Nobody ever boos, ever. The pros are treated like gods. Charles Howell III could bludgeon his caddy to death with a 6-iron on the first tee and half the fans would clap while the other half lifted the caddie's body out of the way so they could see if Howell was using a new set of irons. The jock-sniffing by PGA Tour fans is easily the worst in any of the sports.
Rinaldi: How much do you care [about the fans cheering]?
Woods: It would be nice to hear a couple of claps here and there. But I also hope they clap for birdies, too.
Minihane: And that’s why he picked Augusta to kick things off. No more controlled environment in any sporting event. Pretty safe to assume that whatever kind of shower Tiger might have requested from Joslyn James will not be discussed by Peter Oosterhuis or Verne Lundquist.
Rinaldi: Eleven months ago, here at Isleworth, I asked you, "How well does the world know you?" What's your answer to that now?
Woods: A lot better now. I was living a life of a lie. I really was. And I was doing a lot of things, like I said, that hurt a lot of people. And stripping away denial and rationalization, you start coming to the truth of who you really are and that can be very ugly. But then again, when you face it and you start conquering it and you start living up to it. The strength that I feel now, I've never felt that type of strength.
Minihane: Another good moment from Tiger here. And this is exactly why he should have taken a few questions from the press after reading that statement a month ago. When you read a prepared statement, it’s awful hard to seem genuine.
Rinaldi: In the last four months, Tiger, what's been the low point?
Woods: I've had a lot of low points. Just when I didn't think it could get any lower, it got lower.
Minihane: I’ll say this for Tiger: I’m not sure he could ever sink as low as President Obama filling out the NCAA women’s bracket on SportsCenter. Talk about the absolute worst in placation. Someone has to tell the guy that it’s OK to admit that you haven’t watched a second of women’s basketball this year. No one will think any less of you, really.
Rinaldi: An example [of a low point]?
Woods: When I was in treatment, out of treatment, before I went in, there were so many different low points. People I had to talk and face, like my wife, like my mom.
Minihane: Rinaldi is smelling tears at this point. He knows he’s a question or two away from jackpot. He's also sort of morphed into Casey Kasem now. I'm half-expecting him to send out a long-distance dedication from "Rachel" to "Tiger." "Moving up three spots this week, here's Foreigner with 'Urgent.' "
Rinaldi: What was that moment like, either one?
Woods: They both have been brutal. They've both been very tough. Because I hurt them the most. Those are the two people in my life who I'm closest to, and to say the things that I've done, truthfully to them, is ... honestly ... was ... very painful.
Minihane: How about CBS turning down Tiger for an interview? CBS felt that the five-minute limit wasn’t enough time. I’ve also been told that Tiger is a massive fan of “The Ghost Whisperer” and wanted Jamie Kennedy to conduct the interview, which also may have given CBS pause.
Rinaldi: What was your wife's reaction when you sat down and had that first conversation?
Woods: She was hurt, she was hurt. Very hurt. Shocked. Angry. And, you know, she had every right to be, and I'm as disappointed as everyone else in my own behavior because I can't believe I actually did that to the people I loved.
Minihane: Where’s the question we’ve all wanted to ask?
“Tiger: Mindy Lawton? Really?”
Rinaldi: I ask this question respectfully, but of course at a distance from your family life. When you look at it now, why did you get married?
Woods: Why? Because I loved her. I loved Elin with everything I have. And that's something that makes me feel even worse, that I did this to someone I loved that much.
Minihane: You and I knew this question was coming, so Tiger must have as well. His answer came across as overly rehearsed here. This was the return of the guy that read the statement.
Rinaldi: (final question) How do you reconcile what you've done with that love?
Woods: We work at it.
Minihane: I’ll give Tiger a B-plus for the interview. Pretty solid effort.
OK, let’s jump over to the Golf Channel. Handling this interview, as we wrote before, is Kelly Tilghman. This makes me nervous because A) she has been described as a good friend of Woods, and B) Tiger basically saved her job in 2008 when he gave her a pass for saying that young players who wanted to challenge Tiger Woods should "lynch him in a back alley.'' So maybe Tilghman feels that she owes him one. We shall see …
(I skipped a few questions from the Golf Channel interview here. As you might guess, some were almost exact matches with the ESPN interview.)
Kelly Tilghman: Tiger, you’ve been a master of control your entire life, how did things get so out of control?
Woods: Going against your core values, losing sight of it. I quit meditating, I quit being a Buddhist, and my life changed upside down. I felt entitled, which I had never felt before. Consequently, I hurt so many people by my own reckless attitude and behavior.
Minihane: No, no. Not Buddhism in the leadoff spot. That’s the worst lineup decision since Kevin Kennedy hit Mike Macfarlane cleanup during a 10-game stretch in 1995.
Tilghman: For a man who’s so disciplined physically and psychologically, why couldn’t you say no?
Woods: I don’t know, now I know. It’s part of what I learned in treatment, being there for 45 days you learn a lot. You strip away the denial, the rationalization, and you come to the truth, and the truth is very painful at times, and to stare at yourself and look at the person you’ve become … you become disgusted.
Minihane: Oh, boy. Two questions and already we've been told that Tiger is “a master of control” and “so disciplined physically and psychologically.” And not by Tiger. I’m starting to think that we may not be getting Mike Wallace vs. the Shah of Iran.
Tilghman:The Masters is a demanding stage on its own, let alone for a return of this magnitude. How do you know you’re mentally prepared for this?
Woods: I’m excited to get back and play. I miss the game. I miss playing, I miss competing. I wasn’t ready to play in Tavistock or play in Bay Hill, I expressed that to Joe [Lewis, Tavistock Group chairman] as well as Arnold [Palmer]. I want to play in these events but I just wasn’t ready. I started too late with my preparation. Hank [Haney] and I are starting to work now and start to get it going.
Minihane: Yawn. I’m telling you, the Masters is perfect for Tiger. He loves the course and will be left alone all week long. Couldn’t be a better place for his return.
Tilghman: How will your therapy affect your 2010 schedule? I’m assuming you’ll have more in-patient therapy ahead.
Woods: Yeah, I will have more treatment, more therapy sessions. As far as my schedule going forward, I don’t know what I’m going to do, Kelly. Last year I didn’t know because of my knee; it was still uncertain. And this year, with all the things that I’ve done, I don’t know what I’ll be doing, either. That to me is a little bit bothersome, too, in a sense that I don’t like not knowing what to do, but what I know I have to do is become a better person and that begins with going to more treatment.
Minihane: Remember, this is the Golf Channel, so you are going to get a couple of, well, golf questions. But Kelly needs to step up, and time is short.
Tilghman: You went from becoming recognized as the greatest golfer in the world to becoming a punch line. How did that make you feel?
Woods: It was hurtful, but then again, you know what, I did it. I’m the one who did those things, and looking back on it now with a more clear head, I get it. I can understand why people will say these things because you know what, it was disgusting behavior. As a person, it’s hard to believe that was me, looking back on it now.
Minihane: Touch 'em all, Kelly Tilghman! Best question of either interview.
Amazing how things change, isn’t it? If someone had asked Tiger that question a year ago, Steve Williams would have tossed the interviewer into a lake somewhere. Now Tiger is alone and he has to take it. And he did pretty well, I thought. He actually answered the question. And maybe that’s the first step in taking the stench of TMZ and "Saturday Night Live" and late-night TV off of him.
Tilghman: It’s been reported that members of your team, your inner circle, were involved in your misdoings. Is it true?
Woods: That is not true; it was all me. I’m the one who did it, I’m the one who acted the way I acted, no one knew what was going on. I’m sure if more people would have known in my inner circle they would’ve, they would’ve stopped it ... or tried to put a stop to it, but I kept it all to myself.
Minihane: One of the few times where a simple “no comment” would have better served the interview subject. No one, and I mean no one, believes that Tiger Woods is the only person that knew that Tiger Woods was having all these affairs. Why? Well, because we all have friends. And, sure, maybe you could keep a fling (or even two) on the side. But the numbers that we are talking about with Tiger? Come on. And, P.S., this isn’t you or I we are talking about. Just the most famous face on the planet is all. It takes work to get him from place to place.
Tilghman: What is the state of your marriage with Elin right now?
Woods: We’re working on it and it’s a process that will remain private between her and I.
Minihane: Well, between Tiger, the Mrs. and fans of TLC’s new reality show, “The Mistress and the Model,” where each week Elin and a different member of the tribe of 18 travel to different historical sites. First up: Elin and Jamie Jungers at Gettysburg.
Tilghman: Based on all that has transpired, what do you want your legacy to be when all is said and done?
Woods: Just like I wanted before. I felt that golf was a vehicle for me to help a lot of people. My dad had always said something that I never really quite understood until these times. In order to help other people, you first have to learn how to help yourself. Going into a treatment center for 45 days, I learned a lot. I learned how to help myself, and that’s the way I can help others down the road.
Minihane: One of the (many) odd side notes of Tiger’s statement a month ago was its failure to acknowledge Earl Woods. By almost every account, this is the key figure in the first 30 years of Tiger’s life. So I think Earl may have played a factor in the mess that Tiger finds himself in today. Don’t want to get too “In Treatment” here, but it doesn’t take much of a leap to think that for all the good the father did, he might have had a hand in the creation of the bad.
Tilghman: I noticed you’re wearing a bracelet, can we see it?
Minihane: Not good. Where is this going?
Tilghman: What does it mean?
Woods: It’s Buddhist, it’s for protection and strength, and I certainly need that.
Minihane: This is a Stuart Scott moment. We could be seconds away from a fist bump. That's how fast it happens. Come on, Kelly, finish strong. We can get past this.
Tilghman:When did you start wearing it?
Woods:Before I went into treatment.
Minihane: If he had answered “nine years ago,” that would have been the highlight of either interview.
Minihane: I swear I’m trying to give Kelly Tilghman the benefit of the doubt on this. But we really don’t need four questions about a bracelet in a five-minute interview with Tiger Woods, do we?
Tilghman: For the rest of your life?
Minihane: Absolutely nauseating is more like it. The gun had her last five questions at 52, 54, 48, 48 and 46 mph.
Tilghman: Tiger, thank you.
Woods: Thanks, Kel.
Minihane: That’s the most pleased that Tiger has been with a finish not involving Loredana Jolie in months. Easy street down the stretch with his old pal Kelly.
But all in all, it was a good day for Tiger, and he hasn’t had many of those in a while. Sure, he’ll always be guarded and will never come across as warmly as his people would like, but at least we watched a human during the two interviews. The robot from a month earlier was, for the most part, not around. Now it’s time to stop talking about this stuff. We’ve all been sufficiently fed. No need for Oprah now, or "60 Minutes." You can go back to being a golfer. The public is ready.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go look under the bed for Tom Rinaldi.
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