Tiger Woods, who became his own cautionary tale, makes his biggest pitch for a redemptive comeback this week. And what better place to stage his comeback than The Masters Tournament?
The members of the venerable Augusta National Golf Club have been nothing but supportive of Tiger over the years. They even installed his own drinking fountain in 2010.
It has been a tough decade for Tiger so far. You will remember that his wife, Elin, wanted to divorce him, citing irreconcilable waitresses. But she dropped the plan when she read her pre-nup; she just wanted Tiger to get his philandering under control and abide by the rules of golf, including the 14-club hostess limit. Then they settled, finally divorcing with one of the few non-disclosure agreements that worked.
Then Tiger hurt his back (I think by picking up too many pancake waitresses). He went to sex rehab, drug rehab and drunk camp. He's been to Betty Ford so many times the cafeteria named a sandwich after him. He started dating Lindsey Vonn, so I guess he went back to Hattiesburg, Miss., and got his sex rehab treatments reversed.
When Tiger staged his first comeback, he played terribly. He seemed unable to drive a golf ball or a car. Harrison Ford hit more fairways with his plane than Tiger did during that year. Adolf Hitler spent less time in a bunker in 1945 than Tiger did in 2016.
Why would Tiger not want to return to playing on the PGA Tour? It's a great life: You make the money of a Republican, have as much sex as a Democrat, and fly around in $60 million private Gulfstream jets like our FBI director.
Will he ever command the moral high ground it takes to hawk Buicks or AT&T? Most of his sponsors dropped him. The one that stayed with him the longest during that time was Lasik Eye Clinics — until ugly pancake waitress mistresses started to show up.
It is always dangerous to put yourself out there as a role model. Charles Barkley, whom I really like, probably said it best in his own Nike commercial: "I'm not your role model." With all the sexual harassment and non-consensual affairs by celebs, we are starting to look back on Tiger's dalliances as a kinder, gentler time.
Stars often have no real friends who will risk that friendship to tell them when they are off track, and Tiger was one of them. And that is the problem with big celebs. It happened to Elvis. When he started gaining weight and doing karate kicks on stage in that white jump suit and cape, a true friend would have arranged an intervention on The King right then.
When back surgery sidelined him from having sex, Tiger got a consolatory call from Bill Clinton just to remind him that he'd be missed and that chasing women is a sport bigger than any one player.
To his credit, Tiger handled it all with class. He didn't go crying to Oprah or Dr. Phil. He never dated a Kardashian. He admitted his mistakes, and this time he seemed sincere. There are no winners when our sports heroes whimper. I cannot imagine Babe Ruth, Wilt Chamberlain or Mickey Mantle doing interviews in a Dr. Phil-style, group therapy "mea culpa," like Tiger has been advised to do. And, of course, Donald Trump never "culpas."
Unless someone is physically hurt, when women who had consensual sex come out of the woodwork later for money or notoriety these famous men need to adopt the Trump Doctrine: Wait one news cycle and do something else imprudent to make them forget it.
Contact Ron Hart at Ron@RonaldHart.com or @RonaldHart on Twitter.