Sometimes you read something that just pisses you off so bad you have to do something about it. And of all the moralistic, tight-spinctered screeds against poor old Tiger Woods that I’ve read, ever, is Robert Wright’s crusty and censorious Jeremiad in the New York Times this week.
Anyway, Mr. Wright, who is a moralist, goes into great lengths to compare pathetic, sex-addicted genius athlete Tiger Woods, who is valiantly trying to return to his profession in about a week after much trials and tribulations brought about completely by himself, to the doomed hero of Bernard Malamud’s tedious The Natural. In that book, a golden child of baseball, played by Robert Redford in the movie, has the chance to be the best that ever was in that game. He gets involved with too many women, and is horribly punished. I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy that ending. Neither did the guys who made the movie, who changed it from annoying myth to something more suburban. Wright is incensed by this, as he should be. People should be punished for all the things they do wrong. At the same time, as Hamlet said, if each of us got what we deserved, which of us would ‘scape whipping?
So anyway, you can read Mr. Wright’s piece and feel really good about yourself, and more power to you. But I will take this moment to wish the gnarled, hobbled, excruciatingly exposed corpse of the former totem that was Tiger Woods a new rebirth. Tiger, this is my prayer for you: I hope you stride up to the first tee, whenever you choose to play it, and send a sharp shaft of light down the middle of the fairway. On the second shot, I wish you an audacious arc to the green, even if it is improbably far away. And then I hope you sink a thirty foot putt for an eagle.
There have been some mighty bad guys who have done mighty good things. I’m not going to name any names, but there are novelists, basketball players, a whole bunch of musicians, some television entertainers and an army of marching CEOs who will line up in that gym. And that doesn’t even take in the politicians. Good Lord. Think about them. No, no. Not Elliot Spitzer. I’m talking about Mark Antony, who once threw up on the Senate floor into his friend’s toga and sunk an entire navy when he was trying to make up with his girlfriend; Winston Churchill, who drank a bottle of brandy many days before noon while making some pretty big decisions; Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower, two of the greatest Presidents in American history, neither of whom could have survived a month in office at this point because each was involved with a sexy subordinate. Mozart was a coprophiliac. Look it up.
At any rate, I think this widespread Tiger hatred is a repudiation of all that is tragic about us. And I feel for the guy, even if he is a lousy human being. In going out there, in front of all those frickin’ barracudas with their cameras and cell phones and Tweeters, and daring to stand up in front of the world, and worse, the gallery, and perform one of the hardest tricks in sport with all these tight asses rooting against you… well, that’s not easy. It takes, at the very least, golf balls.