SPORTS COLUMNIST for the Telegraph, Jim White spoke about the fall of Tiger Woods and when, or if he’ll return to golf to claim the two majors he desperately wants to equal Jack Nicklaus record of 18, as part of a double bill of Tiger Woods themed Coventry Conversations.
Jim White started at the 27th of November, when Woods was discovered by a neighbour having crashed his Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant and a tree, White then catalogued the long list of revelations about Tiger Wood’s private life, which have now managed to break down the force field that once surrounded one of sports biggest personalities.
In a week where Tiger would normally be playing the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, he’s at a sex addiction clinic in Mississippi, losing approximately $67,000 a day and hasn’t suggested, plans to return to the golf course any time soon.
“He’s got to come out and face it” was the main message throughout the conversation, as White said Tiger Wood’s biggest mistake was, and is, hiding away and letting the 17 (or there about) women that he’s supposedly linked with be the only voice speaking to the media.
White also said that: “We’ve not been given the opportunity with Woods to forgive.” and that not attempting to elicit any sympathy from the public was another big mistake by Woods and his advisers.
Earlier this week the world number two golfer, Phil Mickelson, spoke about how the sport needs Woods and hoped his absence was only temporary: “He’s got a lot more important things going on in his life but the game of golf needs him to come back.”
White agreed, saying: “Golf is never front page news unless Woods is playing.” He also indicated how golf TV coverage would suffer without it’s captain at the helm, without Tiger golf coverage is worth $80,000 a minute whereas with him playing it can cost around $120,000 a minute.
This led White to consider to what extent golf and sports journalists were aware of of Woods’ private life prior to the crash: “All the journalists were complicit in this because they knew that golf it’s place within the structure of our national sporting interest was promoted and pushed by Tiger Woods.”
However, White indicated that Woods couldn’t dramatically reappear at his first tournament having not first addressed some of the media’s questions, he has to consider the other golfers and think about the sport: “Can you imagine what its going to be like when he finally emerges, can you imagine the circus at his first tournament, can you imagine the kind of satirical spin the first time someone shouts “In the hole tiger.” ”
With the exception of Barack Obama, Woods has probably been the most visible man of the last decade and yet he hasn’t given a one on one interview since 1997, when there was controversy over a number of jokes in an interview with GQ. White said that this strict control of his personality led to the impenetrable image of Tiger and set him up for a fall: “He’s a brand not a personality.”
The entire Tiger Woods affair has become the first media firestorm of 2010 and journalists are now enjoying the speculation around what’s going to happen next? White gave a simple explanation: “It’s sex and money and thats what journalists want to write about.”
Tiger Woods jokes and puns, along the lines of, ‘that’s the first time Tiger’s struggled to drive over 200 yards‘ have filled page after page of newspapers worldwide, the moral of the story: “Keep your eyes on the road” said White.
Finally some advice for journalists in the room: “Good copy on time, useable copy, not even good, useable copy on time and you’ll be alright.”