I have seen the future — and I’ve seen it all before — and so I know how this here Tiger Woods saga is going to unfold from here. Trust me, so do you. There’s really no other way it can go.
All he has to do is follow the standard script.
But first, a few casual observations:
1. Tiger is going to come through this almost entirely unscathed. Really. Sure, he used to be seen as a Boy Scout. But others have done far worse than serial consensual philandering and been forgiven wholeheartedly.
Start with Kobe Bryant, charged with sexual assault but no longer tarnished by that particular alleged sin even moderately. Michael Vick was convicted of torturing dogs for sport, and no one’s even raising a whimper today as he restores his shattered reputation with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Does anyone raise a peep now about steroids as it applies to Alex Rodriguez? Nope. Turning into a post-season home run machine will do that. Success trumps transgression with few exceptions, particularly if it’s preceded by the appropriate quasi-sincere public apology. Just spin, baby.
2. In an odd way, people have gained a measure of respect for Tiger that wasn’t there previously. Many found him to be so straitlaced as to be boring. No longer. Now he’s the guy singlehandedly responsible, seemingly, for keeping the hotel and motel industry from imploding during the economic downturn.
3. Anytime someone departs a job or position to "spend more time focusing on my family," the sure bet is that this has little or nothing to do with the decision. What it means in this case is, "I need to gather myself and consider my options while surrounded by imagemakers, spinmeisters, lawyers and marketing reps, as well as the occasional intern." Hanging with the family probably doesn’t rank much higher than sixth place on the priority scale, and that high only as props for the occasional photo op. But it appears that Tiger will need to travel to Sweden to get a shot of the happy family working out its problems.
4. You just need to have the right "The devil made me do it!" mea culpa, and Tiger is about to play that card out of utter necessity. This brings us to my crystal ball:
JAN. 5, 2010: Tiger Woods announces on his website that he is in the throes of sex addiction and is seeking inpatient treatment at the Sierra Tucson in Arizona — a 30-day program designed to restore himself to sanity and rescue his personal life. "I have been an untreated sex addict for 11 years," Woods declares, "and I intend to get this issue under control once and for all."
FEB. 1, 2010: It’s announced that Tiger will give his first sit-down interview since his sexual indiscretions became public with Barbara Walters on a very special two-hour edition of "The Barbara Walters Interview."
FEB. 17, 2010: Woods tells Walters that he didn’t understand until undergoing treatment that what he was doing all of these years with his multiple dalliances with women was "seeking the approval" of a father who was never satisfied. "I respected all of them," Woods says, "but I didn’t respect myself."
FEB. 22, 2010: In an edition of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" on which he serves as the sole guest, Woods tells Winfrey that he hopes to be able to reconcile with his wife "even though she’s now living on an island in Sweden that denies me access." He offers "a sincere apology to the women of America for treating you as my personal amusement park."
FEB. 25, 2010: On "A Dr. Phil Prime Time Special: Tiger Woods Apologizes to Dr. Phil," the world’s greatest golfer and most prolific clandestine womanizer answers the Dr. Phil question, "What were you thinking?" by admitting, "I was thinking with my sex drive. In program, they call this, ‘Disrespecting my penis.’ For that and so many other things, I apologize to you and to the country."
MAR. 5, 2010: Woods announces that he will be returning to golf in April to play in the Masters tournament, surprising no one.
MAR. 21, 2010: The Tiger Woods Apology Tour ’10 continues in a New York Times Sunday Magazine cover story that carries the headline, "I’ve Disrespected Nike. I’ve Disrespected Gatorade. I’ve Disrespected Everything."
APR. 11, 2010: Tiger finishes a more than respectable third place in the Masters, his first tourney back since his self-imposed hiatus. The jokes about Woods’ "never having a problem finding the hole" begin to slow down a bit.
MAY 9, 2010: He finishes second at the Players Championship. The press begins to turn back toward rooting for Woods rather than poking fun at him and reveling in his anxiety-riddled misery.
MAY 19, 2010: It’s announced that Tiger and Elin Nordegren have decided to give it another shot with a reconciliation. She moves back along with the couple’s two children to their home in Florida.
JUNE 20, 2010: Tiger wins the U.S. Open Championship, instantly erasing all memory of his winter of discontent and restoring every sponsorship he had lost the previous December. Everything is wondrous once again in Tigerville.
Yep, a mere six months from now, this is all going to be just a bad memory — for Tiger, for the PGA Tour, for his endorsees, for the nation. The lesson that will have been learned: No more early morning car accidents! Hire a driver and live happily ever after. Amen.