This can’t be good for Tiger’s efforts at rehabilitating his image.
Taken in 2006, this Anne Leibovitz photo now graces the cover of Vanity Fair. The accompanying article, Tiger In The Rough, argues that Tiger was an empty golf shirt, a carefully crafted persona designed to separate sponsoring companies from their money:
But there was no way of ever knowing Tiger Woods—not in golf, beyond witnessing the machine-like relentlessness that made him the most remarkable athlete of our time, and not outside of golf, because he never showed any real part of himself off the course, never stepping outside of the cocoon that he and his handlers, primarily International Management Group, had created. Nothing was left to chance, not even his wardrobe during major tournaments, a careful mix of dark pants and golf shirt and hat picked out in consultation with Nike. He had the trappings of a life: a beautiful blonde wife, Elin Nordegren, who was a former Swedish model; a little boy and a little girl; an obligatory mansion in Florida, outside Orlando. But so much of it now seems like requisite window dressing, props for the further crafting of image and garnering of those hundreds of millions of dollars in endorsements—Nike, Gillette, Gatorade, Tag Heuer, AT&T. It now seems that when he returned home after a tournament and vanished back inside his gated community, the persona he left behind, the one he so obsessively presented to the public, was as empty as Bingham’s Omaha apartment, pieces of furniture without any meaning, a life without meaning.
None of these revelations about Tiger’s carefully crafted persona really are new. A book I read in 2005 called The Wicked Game: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and the Business of Modern Golf made many of these points both implicitly and explicitly. I lost a lot of respect for Tiger after reading that book, but always hesitated to review and recommend the Wicked Game because I was never quite sure if author Howard Sounes was on to something, or if it was just tabloid sensationalism. His take on Tiger was, in retrospect, right on the money. So I’m recommending the book now.