December 3rd, 2009
09:44 AM ET

Can Tiger rebuild tarnished image?

Tiger and his people have been masterful in keeping his private life well away from the media glare.

But given what has emerged over the past week it’s fair game now that his life outside of golf will come under closer scrutiny. The fact that he chooses to confess his sins and transgressions behind the curtain of his web site is quite frankly pretty weak.

Bryan Hyland hit stardom in 1962 with his hit romantic single "Sealed with a Kiss" and I was wondering whether Tiger Woods might want to release his own version: “Sealed with a Crash.”

Tiger Woods and wife Elin in happier times.
Tiger Woods and wife Elin in happier times.

Wow! did he seal his fate when he drove his SUV into a tree and fire hydrant in front of his home in the earlier hours of the morning last Friday.

The kiss-and-tell stories that have emerged after the mysterious circumstances leading up to the crash have taken many by surprise and whipped up a media storm.

The perceived rock-solid surroundings of everything to do with Tiger have been shaken to the very foundations, the man who was a model of control has become a character of chaos.

That's one of the main reasons why there is such intrigue and interest in the world’s most recognizable and yet private sportsman.

The confession of transgressions – see even the lyrics would rhyme for Tiger’s tune – and letting his family down have certainly damaged his image for ever.

Pro golfer Jesper Parnevik has been the most outspoken yet and he would be for good reason. Parnevik introduced Tiger to Elin Nordegren when she was a nanny for the Swedish Parnevik family.

"I really feel sorry for Elin, since me and my wife were at fault for hooking her up with him," said Parnevik.

"We probably thought he was a better guy than he is. I would probably need to apologize to her and hope she uses a driver next time instead of a three-iron."

Like most of the story, I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions in relation to Parnevik’s reference to a driver.

The Swedes take great pride in putting the family unit at the core of their culture; it’s something we have covered on Living Golf extensively. So you could imagine that when Tiger leaves everyone to draw their own conclusions when he admits to “letting his family down” Parnevik had a couple of good reasons to hit boiling point.

I should imagine at some point there will be a well choreographed interview with Tiger when he and Elin decide it’s time to talk about the controversy.

Until then Tiger will have to hide from the firestorm and plan his next comeback tournament appearance. Could you imagine the media frenzy that will surround that?

Tiger has done a lot of rebuilding over his career – from his swing to the strength in his knee after an operation. On every occasion his game has suffered but he has managed to come back stronger and a better player.

This time he’ll need to convince his family, sponsors and spectators that when he comes-back he is a better person and the crash didn’t seal the end of his value to the game. That song would not be a good one for golf right now.

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Filed under:  Golf
December 2nd, 2009
10:47 AM ET

What's the point of player awards?

Lionel Messi’s anointment as European footballer of the year will have come as no surprise to anyone. He’s been touted throughout the last year as the chosen one. And, as the award is voted on by the very journalists who supply all the hyperbole, there was every chance he’d be crowned.

Is Wayne Rooney more deserving of the Ballon d'Or than Lionel Messi?
Is Wayne Rooney more deserving of the Ballon d'Or than Lionel Messi?

He’s also a hot favorite for the FIFA World Player of the year title due to be awarded later this month. And, after a year in which he helped Barcelona win the treble of the Spanish league, Copa del Rey, and European Champions League, there’s no doubt that he’s as good a choice as any for the big prize.

However, my question is - what is the point of these awards? The last time I looked, football is a team game in which the effectiveness of one player is wholly dependent on the contribution of others. Only once in history has a player ever come close to consistently winning games on his own, and that was Diego Maradona, who won the World Cup for Argentina and the Scudetto for Napoli ,with his team-mates playing bit parts. But as special a talent as Messi is, he shares nothing but his nationality with Diego, whose skills were from a different planet.

Messi needed others to hit the heights, as born out by the fact that his Barcelona team-mates from last season,  Xavi, Iniesta, and Eto'o also finished in the top five of the Ballon d'Or poll. Sure, he’s a good player, maybe even a great one, especially when it comes to his attacking prowess. But, if you’re talking about the "World Footballer of the Year" shouldn’t the recipient of the title be more of an all-rounder? 

For example, England's Wayne Rooney helped United make the Champions League final and win their third English Premier League crown in a row with a three-pronged effort in which he scored goals, made goals, and prevented goals with some of the most tenacious and disciplined football ever seen in the game. What's more, should Alex Ferguson ever need an emergency goalkeeper, I've heard that Wazza, as he’s known, is also pretty handy between the sticks.

Is Messi as well rounded? No. And neither was Cristiano Ronaldo before him, Kaka, or many others before that. But this is not intended as a case for Rooney and against Messi, but against the whole notion of an individual award in a team sport. An All-Star team, naming the best player in each position – perfectly valid, as you’re comparing like with like. But a World or European footballer of the year per se? It makes no real sense. After all, what is it they say? There is no "I" in team.

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Filed under:  Football
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