Dear Tiger Woods,
A few days before you announced that you were taking a break from competitive golf ‘indefinitely’ to focus on being a better husband, father, and person, I was already on board with this idea and writing and talking about it to those who care to listen to me. I thought that yes — you had made a serious hash of your personal life, no doubt. The thought process was that by showing the world you’re willing to give up competitive golf to save your marriage would be sending a clear message of genuine remorse and willingness to sacrifice to make things right. I envisioned you and Elin and the kids holed up in Windermere or wherever for as much as a year, and in doing that — coming through this in such a way that trust would be restored. I could imagine you re-emerging onto the tour in 2011 with a reasonable reservoir of goodwill. People are forgiving; you would have “done your time” and showed what was important to you, and you could begin the long path to redemption.
Now, 10 days or so later, all the reporting seems to indicate that Elin has made up her mind, she’s divorcing you — it’s “100% certain”, we read. Of course it’s not over ’til it’s over and there is still a chance she might change her mind, and I think you are wise to continue to show remorse and stay in seclusion and do whatever you can to get her to give you time to prove you can be the husband and father and person that we all thought you were, and which you have said you want to be.
Here’s the thing. If Elin makes the decision that it’s irreconcilable and goes through with the divorce, then there is absolutely no point whatsoever in your remaining in seclusion and away from competitive golf. The whole point was not to engage in an act of self-flagellation, it was to take time with the family to rebuild trust and re-boot the relationship. If that’s not in the cards because Elin’s made up her mind, then I for one think you should tee it up early and often on the PGA Tour. Sure you’ll get heckled; sure it will feel miserable having to step out and face the hoots of derision that are surely to come your way; and you’ll have to face the media and just saying “I screwed up — next question” won’t be enough. But the truth is that if the purpose of your break from golf no longer applies; if Elin is off in Sweden and you’re left to brood on your yacht; it serves no purpose not to play golf. Better to channel everything that must be going on inside your head into a revitalized focus on the one thing that can gradually clear your head and remind people of your extraordinary talent — focus on golf. It’ll be rocky for sure, and humiliating, but if you don’t have the option of being out of sight with your family, there’s no point in denying yourself a life on the PGA tour.
I would even go so far as to say don’t even wait for Torry Pines …. if Elin has made her decision there’s nothing keeping you from going to Hawaii and getting the season off to an early start, and I don’t see how anyone could legitimately criticize you for changing your mind if the whole premise for taking a break no longer applies.
Those are my thoughts.