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Meanwhile, alleged mistresses kept coming forward and new Tiger tales were born. In a few short weeks the transformation from most respected athlete in the world to the punch line of every online and late-night joke was complete.
Finally, a third statement spoke of infidelity and said he was taking an indefinite break from golf.
After that, silence and rumors.
There's no question Woods needs to make an appearance before he can play golf for real again, and he's not going to miss the Masters, which is coming up in April.
But, if the reaction from a fellow golfer was any indication, he needs to readjust his attitude. Ernie Els was upset that Woods would take the attention away from the Match Play Championship, whose sponsor, Accenture, dumped him.
"It's selfish," Els told Golfweek magazine. "You can write that. I feel sorry for the sponsor. Mondays are a good day to make statements, not Friday. This takes a lot away from the golf tournament."
Soon you can bet Woods will be on with a sympathetic Larry King, or sit down alongside Elin on a couch with Oprah Winfrey or Barbara Walters. It's the next step toward his public rehabilitation, and it's an even surer bet that those chasing this interview will agree in advance to make Woods look as good as possible.
Then it's on to the golf course. Expect Woods to wield his sticks for real next month on the tour's Florida swing, possibly beginning at Doral on March 11. He'll walk in the press room, give a brief apology for anything that might have hurt his family or the game of golf, then say the words he's been itching to say for weeks:
"From now on I'd appreciate that any questions you have for me are about my golf game. I've said all I'm going to say about my personal life."
What Woods still doesn't seem to understand is that it won't end things. Not only will the golf media not be nearly as subservient anymore, but the story has long since been hijacked by the tabloids and entertainment shows.
So spare us the tears and the carefully crafted message of family and love. Don't try for sympathy by saying how tough this has been on your family, and how you hope your wife and children will one day forgive you.
Stand up and answer the tough questions, no matter how painful it might be.
Bring something more to the party Friday than just than a good photo op.
Otherwise, this is nothing more than just another Tiger Woods joke.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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