Has the world forgiven Tiger Woods?

Based on the interest and the crowds at Pebble Beach, Woods is as big now as he ever was. Photo: Matt Payne

PEBBLE BEACH, Ca., February 12, 2012 - After a hiatus fueled by multiple sexual affairs, professional golfer Tiger Woods has failed to perform athletically again and again. We like to think that Woods’ fall from grace has put him in an inescapable category of scoundrels and philanderers whereby he will exist in his sport but only as a pariah that flew too close to the sun.

This could not be further from the truth.  

Saturday, Tiger Woods played in the PGA Pro Am alongside Tony Romo at Pebble Beach.  Also playing in the tournament are Bill Murray, Aaron Rodgers, George Lopez, Ray Romano, Huey Lewis, Kenny G, Patriots coach Bill Belichick, Oklahoma Sooners coach Bob Stoops, and dozens of the world’s most successful businessmen, athletes and entertainers, not to mention the finest golfers in the world.  

While many of these players had their followings, there was nothing like the entourage of fans, camera crews, sheriffs, and “yes men” that followed the supposedly ostracized Woods.  Fans line the holes where Woods is playing from the tee box to the flag and hang on the ropes ten people deep.  Many of these individuals cannot even see the golfer hit his shots over the people standing in front of them.

But instead of parking it on a hole and watching a multitude of players play through, they choose to follow Woods.  Simply being in the presence of the pariah satisfies whatever calling it was that brought them to the tournament in the first place, even though they see nothing but the backs of heads and puffs of cigar smoke.

It is nearly impossible to go anywhere in the tournament without someone asking what hole Tiger is playing. Shooting birdie after birdie, with Tiger moving closer and closer to the lead of the Pro Am through the day, Tiger Fever reached fever pitch.

Tiger swings (Associated Press)

Tiger swings (Associated Press)

Upon his finish, the jam-packed course’s population decreased by half. People say they are changing their airlines tickets to stay another day in hopes that Woods will make a comeback and catch up on the final day of the tournament with leader Charlie Wi.  Wi holds a four-stroke lead over Woods who is in third place at 11 under par. 

It seems that when a celebrity does something bad, be it a DUI like Nick Nolte, an affair like Woods, or even an assault and battery like Chris Brown, that they can apologize all they want and it doesn’t make a difference. We, the viewers of their lives, wait, wathcing the news expecting a bad situation to get worse.

As long as their lives remain status quo they slip off into the category of forgettable.  

That is of course, unless they achieve excellence within their profession, using their God- given talents; the very skills that caused us to fall in love with them in the first place. They do something so amazing that we forgive their moral destitution and they rise like a Phoenix from their nefarious ashes of decay to an exalted state higher than they were before they first flew too close to the sun.

Woods is as big now as he ever was. At the beginning of this tournament, we watched him to see him fail.  When he didn’t fail we started to watch to see if he could win.  Now, going into the last day, Woods is in a position to win at Pebble Beach and be back on top of the world.

A win at Pebble Beach would pull Tiger out of the weeds (Associated Press)

A win at Pebble Beach would pull Tiger out of the weeds (Associated Press)

When he does, that woeful hell of infidelity will slip away.

While Woods may not ever be the pristine golden boy that he was before, he will still shine. People will continue to watch, and perhaps the next time he messes up, we will remember that we didn’t love him because of his personal life, his role as a husband or a father. 

We loved him because he was an amazing golfer. Based on the way he is playing at the Pro Am, he still is.


Also read:

Walking with Giants: Practice rounds at the PGA Pro Am


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Matt Payne

Matt Payne has lived and worked as both a television writer and producer in Los Angeles for nearly ten years.  Matt grew up in Oklahoma City and began his career with a degree in Film and Video Studies from the University of Oklahoma.  Since then, he has worked as part of writing staffs for such hits as 24 andWithout A Trace. Most recently Matt wrote and produced episodes of CBS’s The Defenders starring Jim Belushi and Jerry O’Connell and Memphis Beat, starring Jason Lee, which is set to air on TNT in August of 2011.

In addition to a successful television-writing career, Matt has developed features with major production companies and continues to work as a freelance script analyst for Relativity Media, the production company behind such hits as The Fighter, Zombieland, and Catfish where he has provided script feed back on nearly a thousand features.

When he is not writing and producing television, Matt works as contributor to the Washington Times Communities Travel section, where he has writing skills have taken him from the top of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpar to the jungles of the Philippine Islands.  New York City’s finest restaurants to the earthquake ravaged Port au Prince Haiti. 

Matt was the winner of the 2004 Comedy writing award for Scriptapolooza, a finalist for the Warner Brothers Television Writer’s workshop, and is an active participant in Los Angeles’s Young Storytellers Program.  

Early in his career, Matt spent two years working as an assistant the Endeavor, which is now part of WME, the second largest talent agency in the world, working closely with such talent as Christian Bale and Michael Douglass.

Matt  is a member of  the Writer’s Guild of America and the Screen Actor’s Guild.

Contact Matt Payne


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