How much of an image implosion disaster of Mark Sanford/Eliot Spitzer/John Ensign proportions has this been?
Well, let's put it this way. Tiger Woods has handled this public relations crisis about as well as I play golf. Ugly. Very, very ugly.
It is undeniably axiomatic that you cannot be one of the most famous people on the planet and crash your Cadillac at 2:30 in the morning and not expect to invite scrutiny as to what the &^%$# were you doing/thinking.
Let's face it, there are precious few reasons a man will be leaving his home at that hour: a) beer run, b) going fishing, c) his wife is loading a gun, d) all of the above.
At least Woods had the good sense not to attempt to explain the whole thing away by claiming he was headed to Walmart to get in line for the 4 a.m. Black Friday sales.
Since the world has discovered that Tiger Woods apparently has taken more mulligans on his marriage vows than Bill Clinton meets Mel Gibson, the golf superstar has repeatedly insisted/pleaded/whined he is entitled to a modicum of privacy.
In a statement released through his Web site in which he admitted and regretted "transgressions," Woods has insisted "there is an important and deep principle at stake, which is the right to some simple, human measure of privacy."
He goes on to state on his Web site how he feels compelled to preserve the "virtue of privacy."
Sorry Tiger, but if you were so concerned with "principles" and "virtue" in the first place, you wouldn't have found yourself in the middle of a scruple scramble.
If Woods was all that obsessive/compulsive about his treasured privacy, why was he was so cavalier in discussing some of the most intimate aspects of his marriage to Elin Nordegren, who also happens to be the mother of his children, with his two-bit, gin joint chippy mistresses?
At the moment several women have come forward not only to publicly admit they were doing the coo-coo-ca-choo with Woods, but he was spilling the beans about his marital life with them. Privacy?!? This guy was auditioning for The Jerry Springer Show.
You know, you can't be the Greta Garbo of Augusta National one moment and the chatty Cathy of Carnoustie the next and expect the public and the press to respect your "privacy" when you've been so busy invading it yourself.
Despite his wealth, estimated to be nearly a billion dollars, Tiger Woods can't be having much fun. He's publicly humiliated his wife. He's revealed himself to be the lounge lizard of the links. And that carefully calculated wholesome image so near and dear to the brand names he represents has now turned into the Jackass of Accenture — hero to hick, icon to late night punch-line, all over the course of just a few days.
Since Woods demonstrated he can drive a golf ball 350 yards but can't handle an Escalade over the course of a few feet without turning his Isleworth subdivision into something out of The French Connection car chase scene, speculation has been rife as to when the Lothario of the 19th hole will show up in public. Perhaps for the J.D. Salinger Invitational?
And that will probably represent Woods' ultimate punishment for his "transgressions."
Mrs. Woods might well decide Tiger doesn't make the marital cut. He might even lose a few endorsements for being the philanderer of the fairway.
But sooner or later, Woods still needs to make his living, playing a sport where the participants are literally only a few paces removed from the gallery following his every move.
And it is there Woods will have to endure the sotto voce whispers of the crowd, the occasional catcalls and perhaps for the first time in his life — boos. All the green jackets, the U.S. Open trophies, the Claret Jugs, the PGA accolades — what are they worth if the public thinks you're a hypocritical lowlife?
Fortunately for Woods, there is a chance at redemption. After all, this is why God created Larry King and his CNN confessional.
If there are two things the American public can't get enough of, it is: a) celebrities falling fast and hard from grace, and b) then cravenly, obsequiously begging for forgiveness.
In time it would hardly come as a huge shock if Woods concluded this privacy thing is highly overrated, especially when he's being treated like the Unabomber by his fans, and it will be off to do his mea culpas with King, or if he's tied up with Amy Winehouse apologizing for her latest drug rehab stint, perhaps Ahmad Rashad, who is always good for a fat, juicy softball.
But when you've shanked your image, as Tiger Woods will soon learn, there are no gimmes when it comes to rehabilitating a reputation.