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BILL PLASCHKE

A major decision for Tiger Woods

Woods finally makes the right move by choosing his family over golf, but things will never be the same.

December 12, 2009|Bill Plaschke
  • Tiger Woods celebrates a birdie on No. 18 at Torrey Pines during the fourth round of the 2008 U.S. Open, forcing a tie with Rocco Mediate, whom he'd defeat the following day to win the title.
Tiger Woods celebrates a birdie on No. 18 at Torrey Pines during the fourth… (Richard Hartog / Los Angeles…)

So, it turns out, somewhere beneath those strippers and hookers and pancake-house waitresses, there is a soul.

Tiger Woods officially joined the human race Friday when, mired in the thickest rough of his life, he did the one thing he never does.

He acknowledged his mortality. He surrendered to his frailties.

He didn't try to hit over a towering tree, or around a mature rain forest, or through a canyon ravine.

The guy who never takes a drop took the biggest drop in golf history.

He not only picked up his ball, but he stuck it in his pocket and walked into his house and closed the door behind him.

The world's greatest golfer admitted he was a duffer of a man, and quit the game indefinitely to fix that.

Good to see. Hope it sticks.

For the first time in his life, the Teflon Tiger has a chance to make a strong societal statement if he holds to Friday's announcement that he is quitting golf indefinitely to attempt to repair his family.

"I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused to so many people, most of all my wife and children," the statement on his website read. "I want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask forgiveness. It may not be possible to repair the damage I've done, but I want to do my best to try."

Not to pick nits here, but it was curious how Woods mentioned "so many people" ahead of his "wife and children," as if his family ranked behind his public.

And, c'mon, Tiger. Infidelity? Singular?

Regardless, it was a bold move, a smart move, his sabbatical from golf really meaning something if it continues through that time when folks are actually, you know, playing golf.

That would be next month, when the PGA Tour season begins, and if he shows up at his usual first tournament in San Diego at the end of January, this statement will have been a joke.

It is, however, probably too much for him to miss a major -- "Honey, c'mon, it's the Masters!" -- so expect to see him back by April.

But abandoning your career even for four months to work on family is time well spent, with a strategy that is well-conceived.

First, as crazy as it sounds, it may actually save his five-year marriage and family, which includes a 2-year-old daughter and 10-month-old son.

Nothing shows commitment like leaving the job you love to take care of the people you love. If only the thousands of other embattled spouses in this country could afford to do the same.

Second, if the marriage is already finished, at least Woods is showing his sponsors and fans that he will fight as hard for family as he does on the back nine on the final day at Augusta.

Right now, the idea of Woods walking down a fairway on a Sunday afternoon only conjures up the question of who is waiting for him at the end of that walk. Is it that blond in the low-cut argyle cheering behind the green? How about that brunet in the madras mini standing by the scorers' tent?

The integrity of Woods' image has disappeared under the shamefulness of his behavior. If his public will never see him walking with his family again, it at least needs to see him walking behind them, begging them to slow down.

Finally, and of no small importance, this announcement should stop the bimbo bleeding. I've honestly lost count of the number of women who have announced they have slept with Tiger Woods -- 10, 110? -- but the parade of revelations will now stop.

Woods has admitted that his life is so fouled up from cheating on his marriage, he is temporarily quitting a job that has earned him $92.9 million.

Are there any more one-night-stand statements that could top that?

The shock factor is gone. The tabloid money is also surely gone.

At this point, the only woman who would amaze us by revealing she's sleeping with Tiger would be his wife.

Which leads to the sharp-edged question that will linger long after the impact of this announcement had dulled.

Will Tiger Woods change? Can Tiger Woods change?

This used to be none of our business, but on Friday, by leaving a sport in which TV ratings drop 50% when he is gone, it became our business.

If Tiger Woods needs to clean up his personal life before he can play great golf again, then here's hoping he does it.

If this extended vacation at Club Marriage Counseling is working, here's hoping he stays there.

After all, when you think about it, Friday's announcement that he is disappearing is really no big shock.

The Tiger Woods we knew was already long gone.

bill.plaschke@latimes.com

twitter.com/billplaschke

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