Should Tiger Woods break one of the longest droughts of his career and clinch the 2013 US Masters, he has every right to indulge himself in a marathon hotel orgy with 100 carefully selected Atlanta hookers and US$40,000 worth of Perrier Jouët.
Because Tiger Woods has done his time.
Seriously though, should he take home the green jacket this week, it will represent one of the greatest sporting comebacks in recent memory.
To suggest otherwise is simply ridiculous, as one Fairfax scribe has done so in typically belligerent, contrarian style.
Woods’ world ranking slumped to 58 in November 2011. It followed a decade of indisputable dominance, in which he racked up 14 majors and spent the greatest total number of weeks at number one of any professional golfer, ever.
Woods is hard to dislike if you’re a man who likes golf.
He’s one of the greatest athletes to ever emerge and his incredible life story – took up golf at two; first broke 80 at a professional golf course at the age of eight – only adds to his aura.
As an athlete of mixed race – one-quarter Chinese and one-quarter Thai, one-quarter African American, one-eighth Native American, and one-eighth Dutch, Woods has also proved something of an inspiration for other young minorities looking to take up what is a sport inherently designed for the white, cigar-puffing middle-class.
He’s also dabbled in philanthropy, establishing a foundation aimed at promoting golf among inner-city children. Within it is a learning centre that provides college-access program for under-served youth.
But Woods is easy to dislike – particularly if you’re a woman who has no time for golf. Leaving the whole sexual deviancy thing aside, he doesn’t come across too well on the court.
Whether it’s arcing up at fans who take photos in his backswing or chucking his club towards the crowd after an errant shot, Tiger’s Buddhist roots clearly skipped a generation.
While men can appreciate his tenacity and competitive nature, women see a snarling misogynist with an acute sense of entitlement. He’s also made billions off his squeaky-clean image, which some have argued is tantamount to some kind of white collar fraud.
Look, I can understand why some people – particularly women – take issue with Woods on moral grounds. I’m sure his ex-wife hasn’t forgiven him; to her, his indiscretions will never be forgotten.
But holding grudges against celebrities – or elite athletes – is as futile as it is plain stupid. I respect Woods as a golfer. I don’t need to respect him as a bloke. There are lots of people in the public eye who I respect for their ability alone.
Sure, some players go through their entire careers without a single hiccup. Like honest coal-miners, they clock on and give it their all each day, with a minimum of fuss, histrionics and hair product – much like Derek Zoolander’s coal-miner father did.
Michael Hussey is a prime example of how you can forge out a splendid playing career – and, it seems, possibly a post-career stint in the media – just by performing on the field and being a decent guy off it.
And while players like Hussey are not headline grabbers, they certainly have a place in the sporting landscape – just as the Shane Warnes, and the Tiger Woods, of this world do, obviously.
Warney, in particular, is a perfect example of how we can forgive a sportsperson for his human flaws while maintaining a healthy respect for their craft.
So what if he got busted on tape, begging for sex, holding a giant inflatable penis while wearing a Playboy bunny g-string? That could happen to anyone.
Who cares if he was caught on the stump mic saying that Scott Muller “cant’ bowl, can’t throw”? It was a factual statement.
As long as he was performing on the field, we could forgive Shane’s behaviour because he was winning games for Australia. And by Jove, don’t we all love a winner?
So that’s why, as sporting fans, we can look past what Woods did to his own marriage and family. That doesn’t mean we’re condoning his behaviour, obviously.
Golf scribes know how important this guy is to the game of golf. He brings in the crowds and he gets people talking. Brandt Snedeker is a serviceable golfer, but he doesn’t bring people through the turnstiles like Tiger does.
So I’m backing Woods this week at the Masters because he’s good for the game – and it’d be a fitting comeback for a bloke who has copped it left, right and centre over the past few years from sanctimonious journalists who should be more worried about their own private lives.
Good luck Tiger. What’s more, you deserve to blow off a bit of steam once you’ve claimed the victory. And what better way to do so than in a palatial five-star hotel with some of Georgia’s finest?
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