Tiger Woods is no different between the ropes

It’s a noble thing to try to clean up your act. Admitting wrongdoing and taking steps to rise above past mistakes takes some serious soul-searching.

Actually making good on those promises, though, takes actual effort.

This isn’t meant to be another column cascading down from the ivory tower to bring more shame to Tiger Woods. It’s clear there’s no one better than himself at doing that.

But for Woods to try to lead us to believe he can be a changed man between the ropes on the golf course is simply ludicrous. We know that now.

Can he be a changed man outside of those ropes, far away from the media glare and close (maybe) to his family? That’s left to be decided as well, but truly isn’t any of our business — unless our business is in convincing the public to buy one of the few products still allowed to be endorsed by Woods.

This is more about his golf course demeanor than anything. And while he was being called out for his on-course behavior before his stunning fall from grace — Tom Watson certainly has no stomach for it, and has made that point abundantly clear — it took just two days at Augusta for Woods to go back on his word.

It wasn’t shocking that Woods reverted back to the form he showed in his last professional outing — back in Australia in November, right around the time the National Enquirer was dropping it’s A-bomb of a story of Mistress No. 1 gallivanting Down Under with Eldrick. It was there he threw his driver from the tee and struck a fan — a fan he didn’t even acknowledge, much less apologize to.

Woods, it should be mentioned, won that tournament — angry, childish outbursts be damned. As always.

But that’s precisely the point.

Tiger Woods is who he is. And he still is now — on the golf course — who he’s always been.

When Woods erupted on the first tee on Saturday at The Masters, and then again profanely on the sixth tee that same day, any promises he made in his two-month choreographed rollout of apologies went out the window. It should not have been surprising then that, come Sunday, the media interviews became curt and devoid of any emotion other than anger and resentment.

All this after returning from a 144-day layoff to finish fourth while being in the hunt for fifth green jacket until the 14th hole in the final round.

And so what did Woods’ return during Masters week teach us? The same thing it should teach him. While it’s a nice idea that he thinks he wants to improve his behavior at a tournament — and to be fair, he signed more autographs and interacted more with the gallery from Monday-Wednesday than he has in perhaps a decade — a total transformation into Gentleman Golfer doesn’t appear plausible once the competitive juices get flowing and a tournament victory is within reach.

And so Woods should just drop it. It’s an admirable idea, but reality is reality, and Tiger isn’t going to change stripes that have been bred into him from a very young age. If he can’t contain himself, or control himself within the first 48 hours of competition following a return scrutinized unlike any other seen in this day of media and professional sports, then it’s simply not going to happen. And if we’re all honest with ourselves, we’ll realize that before the sex scandal broke, we were perfectly willing to overlook the tirades and trade them for tantamount golf. So, exactly who is being fair and truthful here?

Who knows, maybe Woods will prove us all wrong, and we’ll see the radiant smile in a setting other than a moment that purely benefits him. Maybe one day he’ll shrug off a shot that went haywire and just get on with grinding his way an unthinkable par like he’s done so many times, but without the histrionics.

Maybe he’ll actually one day congratulate a winner that doesn’t share his name.

Until then, and until he shows he can do such things in a series of Thursdays-to-Sundays rather than the early days in the week, any rhetoric without action should only be chalked up as a vain attempt to win back love and affection from an adoring public blind to anything but brilliant golf. Same goes for us, who have been aiders and abettors for more than a decade.

So Woods should just stop with the act now, and be himself.

We’ve all been fooled by Tiger’s phoniness once already.

No need for any of us — Woods included — to go through such nonsense again.

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Filed under Alex Podlogar, Designated Hitter, Golf, PGA Tour, Sports, Sports columns, The Masters, The Sanford Herald, Tiger Woods, Tom Watson

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