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Tiger’s Apology: A TIME Discussion

4 minute read
Romesh Ratnesar and Bill Saporito

Making an extraordinary appearance before the press in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Tiger Woods on Friday morning spent more than 13 minutes apologizing for his sexual affairs, while remaining vague on his plans for returning to the PGA Tour. “I do plan to return to golf one day,” he said. “I just don’t know when that day will be.”

(See a brief history of the Tiger Woods scandal.)

Immediately following Woods’ televised statement, two TIME editors who have followed his career closely, Romesh Ratnesar and Bill Saporito, gave their reactions:

Ratnesar: My quick reaction: This went better than I expected. He is, unfortunately, a wooden public speaker, and it clearly took effort for him to make such an openly confessional statement. But he sounded genuine, genuinely sorry and chastened. In some ways, the shot of him and his mother after the speech was the most powerful one of all — he seemed in that moment, finally, vulnerable and all too human. And I think that if he hopes to win the public back, showing humility — rather than the imperious self-confidence that has long been part of his mystique — will be absolutely essential.

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Saporito: The guy was wooden, but he kept the ball in play, so to speak. He addressed all his constituencies — the public, the players, the press and of course his family. I got a kick out of his warning the press — in particular the paparazzi — to stay away from his wife and kids. The tabloid press has absolutely no rules; they could care less about his feelings or his family. I can’t wait for him to go after some photog with a 9-iron.

(See pictures of Elin Nordegren, Tiger Woods’ wife.)

Ratnesar: I agree that there were some false notes, like the overheated, straw-man defense of Elin — she “deserves praise, not blame.” Uh, sorry, but who’s blaming her? Among those who think she really did go after him with a 9-iron, most would agree with Jesper Parnevik: she should have used a driver. And there was a brief section early in the speech in which he extolled all the good works being done by the Tiger Woods Foundation — while it was nice to hear that those projects will continue, it also felt discordantly self-serving. I don’t think he’s done with the confessionals, though — he’ll need to answer real questions, from someone. (Tiger: Call us anytime.) He can’t keep giving prepared, rehearsed speeches under soft lighting. So how long do you think he stays away from golf?

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Saporito: He says he’s got to go back for more therapy. I am no expert in this field, but it seems to me that there’s never a timeline on any sort of addiction treatment. You can go through a prescribed treatment period, get clean, so to speak, as he seems to have done, but you are not necessarily cured, if that is the word. I wonder, will golf be part of the therapy or simply the goal at the end of it all? In saying that he might return this year, Tiger sounded like a man who is desperate to return but who understands that he has a lot of work in front of him to get back on the tee.

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Ratnesar: One thing does seem clear: He may say he is committed to change, but he can only change so much. He’s never going to be a warm, sympathetic and likable figure — and he is still surrounded by the same handlers who enable his worst traits. The sooner he gets back to golf, the better, but from the sound of this statement, you’re right … it may be a longer absence than most of us (and certainly the PGA Tour) anticipated.

See an earlier debate between Ratnesar and Saporito on Tiger Woods.

See pictures from Tiger Woods’ press conference.

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