Even Tiger's handlers can't control the news anymore

CanWest News Service
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They thought they were almost there - that by stonewalling and issuing lukewarm denials and tepid mea culpas on Tiger Woods' official website, they were close to keeping the lid on Pandora's box.
It would be a traffic ticket for careless driving, and a lot of she-said, they-said chatter on the Internet, but nothing concrete. In time, it would go away, other than the odd snicker behind his back.
Tiger would have to spend a few million to buy Elin a "house on a finger" to mollify her - like the rock Kobe Bryant gave his wife after he got caught with his pants down - but then everything would settle back into place.
And I was betting on them getting the toothpaste back in the tube, too. I really was.
After all, if Tiger's extravagantly paid image-polishers and truth-benders, the omnipotent sports agency International Management Group (Motto: Don't hesitate to call if you can do anything for us), and the assorted lawyers and security gorillas who make up the rest of his coterie couldn't get the job done, who could?
Well, no one could.
No one can.
"I guess what happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas, after all" may be the main lesson to be learned from Tiger's undoing, but the other is that no one is smart enough, connected enough, insulated enough to control the news any more.
The camera-phone and the lawless jungle of the blogosphere have changed everything.
Tommy-Lee Jones, Agent K in Men In Black, may have been closer to the truth than we knew when he pulled up to that Manhattan newsstand to check out the "hot sheets" for tips on space aliens living on Earth and bought a pile of supermarket tabloids.
"Best investigative reporting on the planet," said K to his skeptical partner. "But go ahead, read the New York Times if you want. They get lucky sometimes."
Not this time, they didn't.
All of us conventional media outlets who were observing the old-fashioned rules of a game that is no longer recognizable got left miles behind on this story.
As the lurid details emerge day by day, it now seems obvious to even the apologists - of which Woods has many among us in the golf media - that there is a fairly substantial trail of Tiger's mistresses/girlfriends strewn about who are quite willing, for a price, to peddle their stories (and cellphone messages) to outlets like National Enquirer, US Weekly, TMZ, Radar Online and (your blog here).
But you could hardly blame IMG for trying to brazen it out. They've done it for Tiger's whole career, after all, creating a cone of silence around The Chosen One that no one dares violate.
It's a condition of being in Tiger's very tight circle - don't ask, don't tell, or you're out of here.
Tiger Inc. looked to be well on its way to weathering the initial storm of the bizarre car accident, the golf club-wielding (we're still trying to confirm that it was a 9-iron), window-smashing wife, the cuts on his face, the timing of it all coming two days after the Enquirer broke its story about his alleged affair with New York nightclub princess Rachel Uchitel, who was with him in Melbourne last month when he won the Australian Masters.
The police dropped the domestic-violence angle like a hot potato because neither Mr. nor Mrs. Woods had filed a complaint. The neighbours toed the party line. The cops tried to interview the unhappy couple but were shooed away from the Woods' front door like pesky autograph-seekers.
The toothpaste was almost back in the tube.
And then the second girlfriend, a Las Vegas nightclub hostess, surfaced with a cellphone evidently teeming with voice messages from Tiger (careless boy!) - the piece de resistance being one in which he was begging her to delete her name from her voice-mail greeting because Elin was putting the pieces together.
"Hey, it's Tiger," says the instantly familiar voice on the message. "I need you to do me a huge favour. Can you please take your name off your phone? My wife went through my phone and may be calling you. . . . You've got to do this for me. Huge. Quickly. Bye."
At the root of it, you might say, it's just a husband-and-wife problem, for them to work out between them: split up, stay together, get counselling, whatever couples do.
We really shouldn't be so absorbed by the details, but we are.
But there's something else. Arnold Palmer pointed it out at Tiger's first Masters as a professional, in 1997, when Woods was complaining about the scrutiny, and how it was different in Palmer's day.
"That's true to a degree," Palmer said. "But it isn't totally the answer. My first contract was for $5,000. His was for $50 million. You think about that a little bit, and maybe it cuts both ways."
Arnold was right about that, but wrong about this: "You know, I talk to Tiger, and I'm not going to tell you all the things we talk about, but . . . you can, if you wish - and I've done it, I know - have your private life," said Palmer, widely rumoured to be an accomplished swordsman in his day.
"And I don't care if you're the president of the United States, there is a way and a time for you to have your private life."
With all due respect to The King, that world is gone.

Organizations: International Management Group, New York Times, National Enquirer Australian Masters The King

Geographic location: Las Vegas, Manhattan, New York Melbourne United States

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  • flogger
    March 01, 2010 - 14:40

    I'd love to see what his face really looks like now, after Elin gave him his comeuppence with his own custom made 3 (or 9) iron ... does it really matter?

    Woods is the consumate hypocrite; sit and try to play the role model and mentor to kids in his First-Tee Foundation ads, and then spit, curse, throw clubs, pout, etc. live on TV the next weekend when 'his game' isn't going his way.

    Thank you Jesper for telling it like it is; Elin should have used a driver instead of a 3 iron. Other pros despise Woods and hopefully the cat (pardon the pun) is now out of the bag. Maybe for once, the media will exhibit some balanced reporting and expose this spoiled brat for what he really is. Hopefully his fall from grace will be as steep as his rise to fame.