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Silence the right recourse for Tiger Woods

For years, I have wanted more from Tiger Woods.

Politics? I'd love to hear his views. Parenting? I'm curious how his father's style has shaped his own. Is he religious? What does he do when he wants to cut loose? Favorite books? Music? Movies? And, while we're at it, how badly does he want to smack Phil Mickelson?

I'd be happy for any glimpse into Tiger's world because he has kept it hidden as well as any public figure alive.

And maybe that's why I have no problem with his silence today.

The journalist in me wants an explanation of what happened outside Woods' home in the earliest hours of Friday. The voyeur in me is curious about the circumstances that preceded his mysterious auto accident.

But the neighbor in me says it's none of my damned business.

For all the speculation, for all the salacious undertones, this really is a private matter. It was a single-car accident on a residential street, and the police say Woods and his wife, Elin, are under no obligation to talk to them about it.

So why should Woods have to explain himself to me?

I understand that he is a celebrity, and I realize that he makes millions from endorsements. But Tiger has never set himself up as a role model for America. He doesn't preach. He doesn't speak out on social issues. He doesn't endorse politicians. His wife politely turns down all interview requests. His children are off-limits, except for a handful of family portraits used as pre-emptive strikes against the paparazzi.

Woods has carefully, and purposefully, constructed a bland image of competitor and golfer. He doesn't show up at a lot of red carpet events, and he doesn't invite Barbara Walters into his living room for a quiet, little chat just with 10 million of us.

So guarding his privacy today is not remotely close to being out of character for Woods.

Does that mean he might take a hit as a celebrity spokesman? Perhaps. But that is an issue for Tiger and Buick. Or Tiger and Nike. If companies do not want Woods pitching their products because he refused to talk about his car accident, they are certainly within their right. And Woods will pay the price if the endorsement offers get lean.

And maybe this is not the way you would choose to handle it. Maybe you have lost a bit of respect for Woods over the past 72 hours. That is your right and that, too, is a risk Woods is taking with his many fans.

But if his silence annoys you, ask yourself this question:

What happens if he does sit down for a news conference? Or, even, if he has a voluntary conversation with police?

You have a couple of potential scenarios:

Either he sticks with the original version of events and almost no one believes him.

Or he acknowledges there is more to the story, and that may not end happily, either.

What if he has been seeing another woman, as the National Enquirer has reported? What if the incident began with a family argument? What if his wife was swinging a golf club in anger?

How in heaven's name does it help him to talk about any of that?

If you don't mind the prospect of having your reputation damaged, your wife looking like a whack job or the police suddenly interested in pursuing a potential case of domestic violence against her, then by all means, unburden yourself on Oprah's couch.

Otherwise, I would suggest keeping your mouth shut.

You can argue that it is not a very statesmanlike approach to the matter, but Woods may have more than his reputation at stake. has reported that the Florida Highway Patrol is considering the possibility of domestic abuse charges against Elin, and an FHP spokesman has acknowledged that the agency might consider a search warrant for Tiger's hospital records.

So, again, how does it help Tiger or his wife to talk about it?

If this were a religious leader caught in a sex scandal then, yes, he would owe his followers an explanation. If this were a man-of-the-people politician getting a $400 haircut then, yes, he would owe his supporters an explanation. If this were an author of a book on virtues who lost millions while gambling then, yes, he would owe his readers an explanation.

But Tiger Woods is a golfer. Maybe he is a wildly successful, popular and rich golfer, but he has never before invited the world to follow him off the 18th green. And I just don't see the benefit of doing it now.

Trust me, I would love to know what happened. I, like many of you, have gossip in my veins.

But when it comes to Tiger, silence has always been par for the course.

John Romano can be reached at

Silence the right recourse for Tiger Woods 11/30/09 [Last modified: Monday, November 30, 2009 9:28pm]
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