Posts Tagged ‘Tiger Woods’

Congressional Country Club, U.S. Opens and Memories

June 17, 2011 1 comment

I will be watching the United States Open Golf Tournament from the best seat in the house this weekend- my living room. But there was a time Congressional was an annual tradition for me and it conjures up some great memories.

Before the abomination known as Avenel Country Club came into existence, Congressional was home to the Kemper Open Golf Tournament, the PGA’s only stop in the nation’s capital. It used to be broadcast by CBS, which I worked for at the time, so I used to get press passes and would alternate spending time on the course and hanging out with the CBS Sports crews in their trailer/studios.

The Golden Bear

I once got a ride in a golf cart with Pat Summerall and got more than a few grins watching the taping of a Ken Venturi chipping lesson at Congressional’s 18th green (the par-4 peninsula green). Trust me…they don’t do it in one take. But, to Venturi’s credit, it only took him three tries to chip to within about five feet of the hole. About a dozen of us spectators and the CBS ENG crew gave him a standing ovation.

I saw Freddie Couples win his very first golf tournament. It was memorable for the endearing spectacle of his first wife, a tall gorgeous blonde, running to the green with her arms open to crush him in a bear hug.

But the highlight of all highlights was following Jack Nicklaus on a magical round in which the Golden Bear notched six birdies in a row. For one of them, I totally lucked out and just happened to be positioned at a fairway trap on the back 9. Jack hit right into it, right in front of me.

So now I accidently happen to be in the front row of the huge gallery that was following him to watch as he tried to keep the birdie streak alive hitting out of sand about 160 yards away from the green. Nicklaus hit an absolutely amazing shot, landing about ten feet from the hole and made the putt. You could hear the roar for miles.

The Old Tiger

My only U.S. Open experience was at Bethpage State Park in New York two years ago. It was a soggy, muddy, hilarious adventure. My girlfriend, Millie and I, positioned ourselves on this hill that overlooks the 18th tee and the 17th green. It’s a very, very steep hill. After a couple of days of rain it had turned into a quagmire. As group after group of golfers would play through, spectators started slipping in the mud. I remember one guy, dressed in pressed white shorts, smoking cigars and looking every bit a close friend of Tony Soprano, as he started listing to the right. Having seen a couple of others topple, we could see it all happening in slow motion. Someone even yelled out, “There he goes!” And he plopped right into the mud as the ground gave way beneath him. So much for the pressed white shorts. He fell a few more times as he tried to get up. It was so much fun.

Then, lo and behold, THE group marched to the 17th tee- the one that included Tiger Woods. Tiger hit a shot that went considerably right of the tiny par-3 green and landed in super-thick U.S. Open rough. He was not a happy camper. This was the old Tiger- the one who still used to win tournaments and cursed up a storm after errant shots. He could barely see the ball. He positioned himself and took a whack at it. Three bounces and into the cup. Birdie. Tiger magic. Roar from the gallery. Tiger fist-pump and wide smile.

Neither Nicklaus nor Tiger won on the two days some 15 years apart that I was fortunate enough to watch them work their magic but that does not matter. Magic is magic, whether it’s part of a winning effort or not.

Tiger the Golfer- Mere Mortal

(Photo: Associated Press)

He looks lost.  His driver is leaving the ball in the woods.  His irons are leaving the ball in sand traps and rough.  The man who used to make 45-foot putts can’t hit from 8 feet.  Seven times he won at Firestone.  He is in 70th place.

What everyone assumed would be the inevitable Tiger Woods assault on Jack Nicklaus’ 18 major titles now seems like an impossible mountain to climb.  I don’t know exactly what Elin did on that fateful Thanksgiving night in Florida, but I don’t think it had as much to do with an 8-iron as it did with kryptonite or some kind of very effective voodoo.  

The human psyche is a complicated thing.  Is he subliminally punishing himself?  Does he need three different women a week or he loses his powers? 

I think it’s control.  He has lost control of his life, first personally- then professionally.  His wife left him.  His swing coach left him.  If there was one overriding aura around the old Tiger, it was a man very much in control of everything; from his golf stroke to, apparently, his secret life. Now it is gone. All gone. It is as if the Gods waved their wands from Olympus and transformed him from one of their own to a mere mortal.

In the days after he withdrew from the The Player’s Championship back in May and Tiger’s coach quit on him, Jay Marioti at wrote a an insightful piece  on the decline of Tiger Woods that had the ring of truth.

He pointed out that at 35 years old, Tiger’s not only getting physically creaky- the famous Tiger Zen has vanished: 

Assuming he can piece himself back together and enter events, Woods has provided no evidence that he can regenerate the magic of yore. His physical problems now include the knees, Achilles, back and neck — body parts urgent to a golfer’s well-being as he swings, walks and thinks on his feet. Mentally, his marital life is headed to divorce, with speculation mounting daily about what type of child custody he’ll retain, if any. All of which is pounding at his very soul. Time was when we thought nothing could invade the steel-trap psyche of Eldrick Woods, son of Earl, heir to Gandhi and Mandela. These days, he’s half the golfer he used to be, and maybe one-tenth the man.    

I remember what Tiger used to be as a golfer.  When he was the best the sport had ever seen.  We were witness to something truly special.  We took the magic and the greatness for granted week in and week out.   We had ten years of it but it still feels rather fleeting.  

Tiger Woods is still alive, but it feels like little by little, we are all writing the very sad obituary of one of the greatest athletes of our times.

Family Guy Wins Masters


Well, if there is a God, we clearly know where he stands on family values.   Phil Mickelson was all things Tiger Woods was not.  He was centered, focused, and because of the difficult circumstances of their lives- totally immersed in the concerns of his family; namely a wife and a mother both battling breast cancer.

If it were a morality play- and it was- the good guy won on Sunday in Augusta.  At the conclusion of his stirring victory, Phil and his wife began the longest hug since Al Gore made out with Tipper at the Democratic convention in 2000.  But it was a sweet, emotional moment that underscored the stark differences with the other guy who fought the lonely battle on the course; the guy without the wife and kids there to cheer him on.

After his five-month self-imposed scandal hiatus, Tiger performed admirably. To finish in the top 5 after gathering that much rust is truly impressive.  But there were great lapses in his game and they appeared to be mental not physical.   The most notable was the routine, no set-up, gimme putt he blew on Sunday.  I had never seen him non-chalant his way to a bogie.

Saturday, after a couple of days of glad-handing the crowds and pinching the cheeks of cute little 3 year-olds on Daddy’s shoulders, Tiger returned to his ornery on-course comportment.   Microphones picked him up yelling “God Damn it” loudly after a blown approach shot.   Sunday he tried to dial it back but a loud “Jesus Christ” escaped from his lips after another errant shot.

Note to Tiger:  The whole Buddhism thing is great- but to get back in the good graces of the waspy, American golfing public, I would stay away from insulting their Christian God or using his only son’s name in vain.   Enough commandments have already been broken.

Asked what his future plans are, Tiger told CBS Sunday that he’s taking a break to reassess things.  Good- because he’s not there yet.  Tiger is an incredible shot-maker and competitor but his magic has always been more the mental discipline and emotional zen that has been an equally important part of his game.

He clearly compartmentalizes.  No one could perform as well as he did at The Masters without that psychological skill.   What’s ironic is that he may find the golf and family thing actually go together and need not be compartmentalized.  When he finally figures out who he really is, when he gets his family back, when he’s truly centered as a human being- that’s when the real Tiger will have returned. 

Until then, he will be a really talented golfer who continues to be an obviously damaged man.

Geezers Battle Tiger at The Masters

Tiger’s holding his own at -4.  In fact, it’s his best Master’s start ever.  But Fred Couples and Tom Watson are 110 years old!  And they’re at -6 and -5 respectively in 1st and 2nd place after the 1st round at Augusta.  I think I like the geezer story line even more than Tiger’s steely, remorseful return.

Tom Watson, who very nearly won the British Open last year, is 60 years old.  Fred Couples, who I saw win his 1st tournament at the Kemper Open at Congressional 27 years ago…is 50.

I’m feeling young again.

Tiger Notes

The Nike ad featuring Tiger’s dad is rather interesting.  Nike capitalizing on sorrow and human frailty.  With Tiger’s permission.  It’s been reported that Tiger’s father was a bit of a philanderer himself- but never mind.

And Billy Payne, the Chairman of the Augusta Country Club, took Tiger to the woodshed Wednesday for his “egregious” behavior.  Interesting as well.  Egregious as Tiger’s antics have been, how long was it before a black man played at the Masters at all?   Let’s see, the first Masters, known then as the Augusta National Invitational, was played in March of 1934.  Lee Elder teed off in April, 1975.  A little over 41 years.

Elder, by the way, rented two houses in Augusta that year so the people who were threatening him with hate mail wouldn’t be able to find him easily.

Morality, it seems, is in the eye of the beholder.

A Golfer Says He’s Sorry- Take That Brit Hume

February 22, 2010 1 comment

In our increasingly scattered and diverse digital world, in which everybody marches to their own drummer, the Tiger Wood’s apology last Friday morning was one of those exceedingly rare TV events that turned into a communal experience shared by billions of people around the country and the world. Every major network ran it live like it was the President of the United States announcing a major international incident.

If you really think about it, it was theatre of the absurd. People across America gathered in their offices paying rapt and occasionally mocking attention to this: a golfer saying he was sorry for failing to control his sexual impulses. Yeah, I know it wasn’t just a golfer. Every time I think of Tiger’s infidelities I flash on that Nike commercial of kids saying, “I am Tiger Woods.” He actually did set himself up as a role model. And he happens to be the greatest athlete of our time. But it was still a golfer apologizing for screwing around. Considering the massive televison audience alone, we have definitely plowed new ground here.

Tiger seemed quite sincere and appropriately chastened. But the props were strange. Mom sitting in the front row. Business associates and friends gathered somberly as if they were at a funeral. The tough-love hugs at the end.

I liked the part where Tiger came home again to his Buddhist upbringing. I took this as a direct slap at Brit Hume of Fox News who suggested recently that if Tiger converted to Christianity all would be forgiven. This is going to be very educational for Brit. What if it turns out people can forgive a Buddhist? Yikes.

And really, really…Erin didn’t take an 8-iron to the SUV?

Ah, so many questions, so few answers.

Top Stories of ’09: A List of the Lists

December 29, 2009 1 comment


For the past several weeks, writers and editors at various media outlets, wire services, newspapers, magazines and web sites have been busy little beavers, compiling their lists of the big stories of 2009.  As a helpful guide, I have superficially scoured the web for some of these lists, point out some of the highlights and offer a few links to make it all convenient for you.

The Serious

The grand-daddy of them all is the Associated Press list of the top ten stories of the year as voted on by U.S. Editors and News Directors.  The #1 story was the tanking and slow recovery of the American economy.

THE ECONOMY: Despite a $787 billion federal stimulus package, much of the U.S. economy continued to sputter throughout the year. The jobless rate topped 10 percent, scores of banks failed, the federal deficit tripled to a record $1.4 trillion, and stocks fell to their lowest levels since 1997 before rallying. Yet investment banks’ profits surged, triggering public anger and efforts in Washington to crack down on Wall Street bonuses.

For the kiddies, puts the Obama inauguration at the top of the list:

A Historic Inauguration

On January 20, Barack Obama became the 44th U.S. President—and the country’s first African-American chief executive. Obama’s swearing-in ceremony drew a record crowd of 1.8 million people. That made it the biggest event ever held in Washington, D.C. The crowd stood for hours in freezing cold temperatures to witness the event. “We gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord,” the new President told the nation.

The Twitter World

Reuter’s rounds up the top ten “weird” twitter stories of ’09.  Topping their list is one man’s compulsive tweeting- including this live, breathless account from his own wedding:

Standing at the alter with @TracyPage where just a second ago she became my wife! Gotta go, time to kiss the bride” is how Dana Hanna kept the world posted between “I do” and that kiss. offers an interesting list of top ten tweets of 2009.  At the top, Newt Gingrich’s tweet for which he later apologized in which he called Supreme Court nominee, Sonya Sotomayor a racist:

The former GOP Speaker of the House got a little ahead of himself at 9:34 a.m. on May 27, when he declared that Supreme Court nominee Sonya Sotomayor was a “racist.”

“White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw,” Gingrich tweeted. He was incensed over Sotomayor’s comment about a “wise Latina” being able to make a better decision than a white male because of her life experience.

But several days later, Gingrich hit the rhetorical “delete” button. “My initial reaction was strong and direct — perhaps too strong and too direct,” Gingrich said in a Web posting. He regretted calling Sotomayor a racist. Gingrich had done a 180 — within 140 characters.

And though not a tweet, Sarah Palin’s famous Facebook entry on health care “death panels,” simultaneously enraged some and caused others great glee:

Here’s the meat of Palin’s post on Facebook: “The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care.”

On the Medical Front

The Harvard Medical School’s top story for 2009 is about a story that has turned out not to be a story- the H1N1, Swine Flu pandemic:

After the first several weeks of uncertainty, most of the news about the 2009 H1N1 “swine flu” pandemic has been reassuring. Much of that has to do with the nature of the H1N1 virus itself, which spreads easily and makes people sick, but so far rarely in a life-threatening way. And the word pandemic is misunderstood: a disease is considered pandemic if it has spread globally and affects a larger-than-usual proportion of the population. The disease needn’t be severe.

But a major reason for the calm has been the measured public health response. Plenty of information has been made available (this is the first Internet-age pandemic). A vaccine was developed and put into production, although shortages are a serious concern. Health officials gave us simple, concrete things to do to protect ourselves and others: cough and sneeze into your sleeve, wash your hands often, get vaccinated with both the seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines, stay home if you’re feeling sick.

This wasn’t the flu pandemic that the experts were expecting. For years, they’ve eyed the H5N1 bird flu virus circulating in Asia to see if it would mutate and become transmissible among humans. Instead, H1N1 emerged in Mexico with a complicated quadruple pedigree: two strains of swine flu, a human strain, and a bird one. Hospitalization and death rates from the new virus have been high in healthy young adults and quite low in people older than 60. One explanation for that pattern is that older people may have some immunity left over from exposure to a previous version of H1N1.

 In the World of Sports

The Los Angles Times’ #2 sports story of the year was Tom Watson’s improbable bid for another British Open title, which really was a nearly-great moment in sports history:  

 Jack Nicklaus was home watching — for the first time in his life, he says — an entire round of golf on television. Tom Watson was watching the flight of his eight-iron land right where he wanted it to on Turnberry’s 18th green . . . and then inexplicably keep rolling and rolling until it eventually trickled off the green. He putted down the slope from the collar and was left with a putt that would have made him the oldest player to win the British Open . . . by 11 years. He missed and lost a playoff to Stewart Cink. “It tears at your gut,” Watson said, but quickly told crestfallen reporters, “This ain’t a funeral, you know.”  

The New York Daily News’ top three sports stories were Tiger Wood’s infidelities, Alex Rodriguez’ steroid admissions and, of course, the New York Yankees 27th World Series title.

Tech World

Computer World’s #2 story is Microsoft’s launch of Windows 7, the new computer operating system that replaces the atrocious Vista OS:

Microsoft launches Windows 7 — we can all move on now

On Oct. 22, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage in downtown New York at the lead event for a somewhat — for the software giant — soft-edged launch for Windows 7. Ballmer presided over a day of speechmaking and sales promotions in cities worldwide. But the events were on the whole smaller than the usual major Microsoft launches. The scaled-back hoopla and the marketing mantra of “simplicity” fit Microsoft’s characterization of the new OS — above all, faster and more straightforward to use than its predecessor, Vista. That much-maligned OS was plagued by hardware compatibility problems, slow performance and annoying system alerts. The older Windows XP, as of the Win 7 launch, was still being used by more than 70 percent of computer users. Microsoft, no doubt happy to turn the page on an embarrassing chapter in its history, says Win 7 is being adopted faster than Vista.

Celebrities and Wannabe Celebrities

E-online has a first place tie for its entertainment stories of the year.  It’s Tiger and the death of Michael Jackson.

Something called has a list of the top TV reality show scandals of the year.  Balloon Boy was #1 and coming in 4th and how could anybody’s list be complete without them- the notorious White House party crashers, Michaele and Tareq Salahi.

Special Bonus List

Saving the best and most lascivious for last, lists and has a gallery (that shows nothing, by the way) of the top sex tapes of the decade (excuse me- but how 1990’s):

Paris Hilton wins top honors.

Tomorrow…helpful links to lists of the best stories of the decade of which the above item was but a mere tease.

The Week in Review: Dec. 14- Dec. 18/2009

December 18, 2009 Leave a comment

Remembering the week’s events so you don’t have to!

Monday 12/14/09

♦ The week starts off with a bang that quickly becomes a whimper. President Obama invites the heads of American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo to the White House for a stern lecture on how those who have received so much from the taxpayers might want to start thinking about actually giving back a little. Three of the executives miss the meeting because the NY-DC Shuttle is fogged in at La Guardia. So much for respect for the Presidency. Couldn’t they have spent the night before in Washington? I understand Amtrak has a fine train service from Penn Station to Union Station. They did call in, though. How considerate.

♦ The Climate Change conference in Copenhagen gets crazy as developing nations quarrel with developed nations, protestors get rowdy and consensus on much of anything begins to melt like the polar ice cap.

♦ The global consulting firm, Accenture, ends its six-year relationship with Tiger Woods saying he’s no longer “the right representative” for them after the events of the past couple of weeks. Gillette begins backing away too.

♦ Something’s fishy at the Waterbury and Wallingford, Connecticut Post offices; seems managers there are so overwhelmed by the amount of holiday mail they’re being inundated with- that they’ve taken to hiding it. Workers get caught stuffing letters, cards and packages into closets and unused rooms. The problem has now been corrected.

♥ The Sun newspaper publishes an exclusive photo of Elin Nordegren (Mrs. Tiger Woods) filling up an SUV at a gas station. There’s something missing. The wedding ring on her left hand.

Tuesday 12/15/09

♦ The Medicare buy-in dies an ignominious death. Independent Connecticut Senator, Joe Lieberman, says he won’t support it even though just three months earlier he had been taped by a local news organization in his state as saying it was a reasonable alternative to a public option. He tells the New York Times he began to get suspicious of the plan when liberal, Democratic NY Congressman, Anthony Weiner, said he loved it. Note to liberals: next time there’s legislation you need passed through the Senate, pretend you hate it.

♥ President Obama, campaigning for tax credits people can get for weatherizing their homes, declares that insulation is “sexy.” I suppose that can be true depending on who’s doing the insulating and what they’re wearing.

♦ Uh-oh. Can it possibly get any worse for Tiger Woods? The New York Times reports the doctor who treated his bum knee last year is under investigation for giving human growth hormone to some of his patients. Tiger’s agent tells people to back off- he’s never used performance enhancing drugs. Apparently, the doc visited Tiger’s home on four different occasions to perform a procedure in which a patient’s own blood is put through a centrifuge to separate out the platelets that are then injected to an area of injury to promote faster healing. The PGA backs Tiger and releases a statement saying that they’ve seen nothing in the reporting that would indicate he’s been in violation of their anti-doping policies.

♥ Considering the consensus that Tiger really would be finished if it turns out he used PED’s, finally, some welcome news for Woods. He is now tied to mistress #14. Yawn.

Wednesday 12/16/09

♦ Time magazine names Federal Reserve Chief, Ben Bernanke the Person of the Year for saving the American economy. Millions crowd the streets as the chanting starts out quietly at first, then into a full roar, “Bernanke, Bernanke Bernanke!” Kudos to Time, though. Instead of picking somebody interesting like Sarah Palin or Tiger Woods or Joe Lieberman, folks who might actually sell magazines- they go for the one guy guaranteed to put you to sleep at the mere mention of his name. Readers be damned- who needs ‘em!

♦ reports that New York Democratic Senator, Charles Schumer, called a flight attendant a “bitch” as the DC to NY shuttle was about to take off earlier this week. Seems he was delaying the pull-back from the gate by talking on his cell phone. Obviously, the stewardess had no idea who she was dealing with. There is not a human being alive who has ever succeeded in getting Charles Schumer to stop talking.

♦ The Associated Press names Tiger Woods- Athlete of the Decade.

Thursday, December 17, 2009:

♦ New polling is out from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal. The basic results- A pox on both their houses. Support for Democrats has plummeted but the numbers are not translating to Republican gains. What an opportunity for a legitimate 3rd party candidate. Lou Dobbs- take out the hair spray and straighten that tie.

♦ And the numbers show Americans aren’t so thrilled about health care reform either. Only 32% say it’s a good idea; 47% think it’s a bad idea.

♥ A new poll also finds 42% of Americans now have a negative view of Tiger Woods. Clearly, we are in need of a new 3rd party golfer of some kind. What’s Ron Paul’s handicap?

♦ The heavyweights begin arriving at the Copenhagen Climate Change conference. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton says the U.S. will participate in the creation of a $100 billion global fund that poor countries can use to adapt to climate change. It’s predicated on China presenting plans on how they will cut carbon emissions. The Chinese agree to a dialogue. The first glimpse of progress. Nations are now talking about talking in the future.

♦ Lots of news from the NFL. Sad, great and weird. Cincinnati Bengal’s wide receiver Chris Henry dies after falling out of the bed of a pick-up truck in an apparent domestic dispute. The Washington Redskins get rid of an inept General Manager and hire the son of the legendary George Allen. The St. Louis Rams cancel practice as numerous players come down with the H1N1, Swine flu virus.

♥ ABC News quotes sources as saying Elin will 100% divorce Tiger.

Friday, December 18, 2009:

♦ President Obama addresses the Climate Change conference in Copenhagen. This was the site of the humiliating experience when Chicago was turned down as the choice for the 2016 Olympic games. It is now the site for the humiliating experience of no significant action he is seeking being taken to address global climate change. I confidently predict it will be a long, long time before Obama humiliates himself in Copenhagen again. There is a late update on this story. No legally binding agreement- but some headway made as the President literally burst into a meeting of Chinese and other international leaders and forced them into at least an agreement that recognizes there’s a problem to be dealt with and prompts what amounts to voluntary agreement to reduce carbon emmissions. Not a total humiliation after all. But I still don’t think he’s going to back to Copenhagen any time soon. Too many painful memories.

♦ Avatar hits the theatres; all 2 hours and 40 minutes of it. Good reviews abound. More details emerge on what a ground-breaking film it is; 15 years in the making and involving the invention of new technologies like facial recognition cameras that enable human emotions to be uncannily portrayed by animated characters. A 3-D experience that immerses audiences into a completely foreign and highly textured world instead of the usual stuff-coming-at-you-from-the-screen-making-you-feel-like you-need-to-duck approach. It’s long hyphenated sentences like this that doomed my career as a film critic.

♦ Finally, I completed my Christmas shopping! My son, Charlie Garcia, arrives in New York for the holidays next Tuesday and I have just been named head of the Newscast division for National Public Radio, starting in February. Merry Christmas, Charlie- Daddy has a job.

The Week in Review: Dec. 7- Dec. 11/2009

December 11, 2009 2 comments

Remembering the week’s events so you don’t have to!

Monday 12/7/09

♦ The week starts off with welcome news for millions of parents. Zhu Zhu pets will not kill their children after all. Over the weekend, a California product-rating web site had claimed the hit toy of the Christmas season contained high levels of a fire retardant called antimony that can cause heart and lung problems with chronic exposure. The Consumer Product Safety Commission issues a statement saying- nuh uh (paraphrasing). Turned out GoodGuide had conducted faulty testing that failed to meet government standards-the antimony levels were fine. Officially, parents are cleared to return to not finding the toys at stores. The loveable furry rodents that are supposed to sell for $10 a piece continue selling online for $100.

♥ Tiger Wood’s wife reportedly moves out of their Florida home.

♦ The Gallup polling organization’s daily EKG of the President’s approval ratings drops below 50%. He is now down to 47%, among the lowest approval numbers for a new President in modern history. Pundits with White House connections say Obama advisors liken the situation to the Reagan administration’s first term when the nation was in the deep recession that effectively ended the hyper-inflation of the Carter years but at a high cost to millions of newly unemployed. The economy eventually recovered and so did Reagan’s initially bad poll numbers. Fox News trumpets the Gallup figures with serious fervor. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs responds that the White House pays no attention to poll numbers unless they’re good. Ok, he didn’t really say that last part.

♥ The number of women reported to have had affairs with Tiger Woods reaches seven.

Tuesday 12/8/09

♦ The big Climate Conference is underway in Copenhagen. “Climategate” enters the public lexicon in a big way as tens of thousands begin wondering why all scandals have to be named “gate.” Stolen e-mails and files from a British climate research center suggest temperature data may have been unethically manipulated. Representatives from a country with only a small stake in the debate over limiting carbon emissions officially raise the issue at the conference. Delegates from oil-rich Saudi Arabia declare the scandal raises serious questions about the basic premise behind the theory of global warming. Go ahead; take a moment to connect those last two sentences.

♥ Photos of Tiger Wood’s mother-in-law being wheeled into an ambulance on a stretcher at 2:30 in the morning becomes breaking news on all the cable networks. Quickly scrambled reporters breathlessly note the incredible irony that she has been taken to the same hospital where Tiger had been treated after his single-car accident. She was released the next day. For some reason, she had been experiencing stress.

♦ The Transportation Security Administration messes up big-time. Employees post TSA manuals online as part of the contract solicitation process. Not ordinarily a problem, except that sensitive details about airport security procedures that were supposed to be redacted- weren’t. Turns out the TSA employees thought they had hidden the classified stuff by covering the words in black. They should have actually deleted them. Apparently, clever, tech-savvy whiz kids can see right through the blackened segments in PDF files and soon the sensitive material makes its way onto the internet. Among other things, we now know what a CIA security credential looks like, that TSA workers don’t inspect wheelchairs or prosthetic devices, and that when it gets really busy at airports they only have to look at 20% of checked bags for explosives. This is why I take trains whenever possible.

♦ Monster waves hit Hawaii and surfers go nuts. San Clemente, California’s Greg Long, rides what is described as a massive, jaw-dropping 25-footer to a perfect score of 100 winning $55,000 at the prestigious 25th anniversary Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau contest on the North Shore of Oahu.

♥ The number of women linked to Tiger Woods reaches 10.

Wednesday 12/9/09

♦ Hump day is a busy news day, indeed. The President delivers a speech at the Brookings Institution in which he outlines tax cuts and other incentives to help small businesses both hire and invest. Since small businesses hire two-thirds of the American work force, some people see this as a good thing. The loyal opposition, which usually supports tax cuts for small businesses, objects loudly because the White House wants to pay for it with bank bail-out money that has been paid back faster than expected. They argue the $200 billion should go toward paying down the huge deficit.  I pull out my handy calculator and put on my old-fashioned green accountant visor-thing.  Let’s see, divide the $200 billion by the national debt which is currently $12,086,118,896,943.  Convert to percentage.  <Insert sound of fingers busily pressing calculator keys> Ah ha!   Instead of tax cuts for small businesses so they can hire more people, we can take that money and reduce the deficit by 1.65%.   Only 98.35% to go!  Good deal!

♥ It is reported that national television ads that featured Tiger Woods have vanished from the airwaves and have not been broadcast since November 29th.

♦ The upper Midwest is hit hard by a massive winter storm that dumps one to three feet of snow and then moves eastward, eventually hitting New England. Buffalo gets buffaloed as it gets both the initial storm and then lake-effect snow later in the week.

♦ Five workers with the Transportation Security Administration are put on leave while an investigation is conducted into how they could be so clueless. See Tuesday, 12/8.

♥ A CNN/Gallup poll is released that finds Tiger Woods’ unfavorability rating has gone up from 9% to 25%. No one seems to notice that a married guy with two kids implicated in ten adulterous relationships still has a higher approval rating than the President of the United States.

♦ Sarah Palin writes an Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post citing climategate, argues there is no consensus on global warming and concludes the President should boycott the Copenhagen conference. Liberal activists and some scientists criticize the Washington Post for publishing the article. They apparently have not heard that nobody actually reads newspapers anymore and that Sarah Palin’s Facebook friends list exceeds the paper’s total circulation. Sarah Palin has 1,097,360 Facebook friends. The Washington Post’s daily circulation is 637,180. On Sundays, it’s 890,163. I checked.

♦ Senate Democrats reach agreement on health care but nobody can quite figure out at first whether a public option is in or out. Turns out the compromise proposal would allow people to start paying for and getting Medicare coverage two years from now; minimum age-55. Since I am 53, I think, “Wow, how cool is that?”

♥ The number of women associated with Tiger Woods reaches 11.

Thursday, 12/10/09

♦ Barack Obama becomes the first sitting American President since Woodrow Wilson to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. It is widely accepted he’d been given the honor as a largely symbolic gesture for the change he represents rather than for anything he’s accomplished in a mere 11 months in the oval office. Awkward. But not really, because Obama starts the speech by openly admitting the accomplishments of previous recipients like Nelson Mandela dwarf anything he’s done thus far in his young Presidency.

He also accepted the PEACE prize one week after committing 30,000 additional U.S. troops to the war in Afghanistan. Awkward. But not really, because the President deals with the issue head-on in his much lauded speech in Oslo, Norway. He reminds his largely European audience that the non-violent movement would not have defeated Nazi Germany and that you can’t sit down at a table and negotiate with Al-Qaeda terrorists. He concludes sometimes you have to make war to find peace. Amazingly enough, the speech receives positive reviews from Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, Pat Buchanan and Sarah Palin. To underscore his point, the President later reminds attendees of the ceremonies that the founder of the Peace Prize, Alfred Noble, invented dynamite.

♦The Russians finally fess up. An amazing and slightly creepy light display over the skies of pre-dawn Norway on Wednesday were not the harbinger of an alien invasion. Turns out it was a Bulava missile test-fired by the Dmitry Donskoi submarine in the White Sea that failed spectacularly. What startled residents of Norway were seeing was the rocket spiraling down to earth through a haze of leaking fuel, resulting in an awesome and scary viewing experience. For the record, the Bulova missile is one of the most pathetic in the annals of modern rocketry. It has failed in 9 of 13 launch attempts. It occurred to me this would make a great pyrotechnic device for a truly memorable fireworks celebration. Until a friend pointed out that an exploding missile might hurt people. This confirms I would have made a horrible event planner.

♥ Tiger Woods’ attorneys go to court to pre-empt the publishing of nude pictures of the world’s greatest golfer/most questionable decision-maker.

Friday, 12/11/09

The first reviews are in from pre-screenings of the new movie Avatar that is officially released a week  from today.  The epic, whose characters took 15 years to develop and whose total production and marketing costs exceed $350 million- is apparently pretty good.  KTRA movie critic, Sam Rubin predicts at least three Oscars including a Best Picture nomination.  That would be about $116 million per statue.

♦ It’s reported Democrats are poised to vote to increase the national debt ceiling by $1.8 trillion before the end of the year so they can get it out of the way and not have to vote to raise it again before the 2010 elections.  What an outrage!  Why you could produce and market 5,142 Avatar’s for that amount of money.

♥  The Sun newspaper reports exclusively that Tiger Woods tells his wife, Elin that he will do “anything” to keep their marriage together.  She has reportedly agreed to do so for the sake of the children.  Just one condition.  He would be on the shortest leash in the history of leashes.  No more golf tour unless Elin can come along and until the kids are old enough to tag along too.  The first-born, Sam, is 2.  The new kid, Charlie, is 10 months old.  Looks like Tiger is going to be taking a few years off.    Things should die down by then.  Perhaps.

Robert Garcia tweets at garciamedialife.

Revisiting the Tiger Woods Mess

December 10, 2009 Leave a comment

I first blogged about Tiger Woods, on Wednesday, December 2nd, just a couple of hours after he issued his vague mea culpa on his web site. I thought he’d had one affair, maybe two. I argued we should leave the guy alone, that I didn’t want to know the sordid details, that he never signed up to be anybody’s role model. Well, there have been a few developments since then.

Tiger’s adventures have become a veritable cottage industry. It has been a gift from the heavens for every smarmy tabloid and their web-based cousins and subsidiaries. There are website slide shows revealing a carousel of his alleged girls in various states of dress and undress. E-mails have started to turn up, surely the very tip of what will end up being a deep digital iceberg. The mainstream media is also fully engaged; the satellite-truck circus in full glory, encamped at Tiger’s Florida neighborhood every time someone or another gets carted off in an ambulance for a late night visit to the hospital.

So since I am alive and breathing, I have not been able to escape the alleged sordid details. I say “alleged,” because, believe it or not, although he has been linked to as many as 11 different women, only one has actually confirmed a sexual relationship to this point. If most of these turn out to be confirmed, however, there are several things about this potential pornographic parade that strike me about Tiger’s behavior.

The Carelessness of it All

For one thing, he seemed to be really, really indiscreet. Granted, it is difficult in the digital age not to leave a considerable breadcrumb trail of evidence. The Washington Post’s Monica Hesse has an amusing piece on the dangers of illicit dalliances in this brave new world we are living in. But beyond voice-mails, text messages, e-mails, cell phone cameras and what not, he seemed careless about the type of women he was choosing to be with. Many of them are described as cocktail waitresses and party girls. These don’t seem to me to be the kind of folks who tend to respect confidences. I suppose there are some discreet cocktail waitresses in America, but I also imagine most of that discretion tends to melt away when they are suddenly confronted with their Andy Warhol moment of fame and potential fortune.

The carelessness is a big red flag to me. It signals the feeling of invulnerability, the sense of entitlement that we have seen before in cases of public figures getting nabbed doing the big nasty on the sly. I’ve noticed a lot of women, in particular, are saying he’d better not use the “sexual addiction” excuse if and when he makes his groveling public apology on Oprah. I tend to agree with them. I think this was more a matter of ego and conquest. Kind of like keeping a fancy wine cellar for the expressed purpose of showing off all of your rare vintages. Not that he was walking around arm-in-arm in public with his ladies but he was probably well aware of the notches of hotties he was accumulating on his belt.

Conquests Conspicuously Lacking in Diversity

Columnist Eugene Robinson notes that, using my wine cellar analogy, there appear to be a lot of white wines and not a lot of reds. “The whole Barbie thing,” as he calls it. Robinson theorizes this is evidence Tiger is a total control freak seeking constant validation:

I’m making a big assumption here that the attraction for Woods was mostly physical, but there’s no evidence thus far that he had a lot of time for deep conversation. If adultery is really about the power and satisfaction of conquest, Woods’s self-esteem was apparently only boosted by bedding the kind of woman he thought other men lusted after — the “Playmate of the Month” type that Hugh Hefner turned into the American gold standard.

But the world is full of beautiful women of all colors, shapes and sizes — some with short hair or almond eyes, some with broad noses, some with yellow or brown skin. Woods appears to have bought into an “official” standard of beauty that is so conventional as to be almost oppressive.

Tiger’s Future

So what will become of Tiger? I don’t want to get into the speculation of how he will emerge from this, no doubt advised by the best damage-control experts money can buy. But I do know that if this is just a matter of serial adultery, there have certainly been other public figures who have faced much worse- Bill Clinton for one. I don’t think Tiger will have to go through a full impeachment trial before 100 U.S. Senators. Nor is he yet accused of the kind of unusual escapades that folks like NBC Sports play-by-play announcer, Marv Albert, endured in excruciating detail in a public trial.

As the late Dear Abby used to say, time heals all wounds and wounds all heels. Tiger will do what he has to do to maintain his empire; he will serve some kind of penance for his actions; he is focused enough, I think, to keep his claim as the greatest golfer of all time. Except we will know he is very, very mortal in all other respects.

This too shall pass. And except for TMZ, US Weekly, The National Enquirer, Entertainment Tonight, The Daily Mail, the Daily News, the New York Post and on and on,   for that- the rest of us will be very grateful.

The Week in Review

December 4, 2009 Leave a comment

Sometimes it all goes by so fast that by Friday you forget what happened last Monday. Then when you successfully navigate all the clutter in your brain and finally remember what happened Monday…bam…Tuesday’s now been erased. Here’s a helpful guide that won’t tax what’s left of your brain cells and updates some of the week’s noteworthy events:

Monday, November 30: We all returned to reality after the Thanksgiving holidays and after four days off, it was a slow and grudging return to work (or return to looking for work as the case may be). Some of us got through Black Friday, Black Saturday and Black Sunday relatively unscathed. And we thank you for spending. Preliminary sales figures show the retail madness in 2009 was slightly better than it was in 2008. This, of course, was that imaginary Cyber Monday thing and you spent the whole day listening to the media tell you were supposed to follow your brick-and-mortar shopping with excursions to and LL Bean online. You forgot to do it (9 in 10 don’t according to Mastercard research) but that’s ok, because you know you still have about three more shopping weeks left.

Tuesday, December 1: It was a day for the silly and the serious. News coverage was split roughly 50/50 between the President’s impending speech on his new policy in Afghanistan and the saga of Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the couple who had crashed the White House state dinner the previous Tuesday. The day started with the Salahis showing up on the Today show, insisting they had been invited to the function. The week ended with an e-mail trail you’d have to be slightly nuts to take as an invitation to the White House. Plus, a trio of Secret Service agents is on administrative leave and in trouble for letting the Salahis in. The White House admitted it played a role in the security breech but also invoked executive privilege in refusing to allow the social secretary to testify before congress.

After no doubt high-five-ing their way through all the glory and media attention, the Salahis also conclude the week under investigation by the State of Virginia for the way they run a charity polo event that some are claiming is pretty much a Ponzi scheme. This proves there is an important addendum to Andy Worhol’s rule that all Americans will eventually receive 15 minutes of celebrity status. It could be followed by 10 to 15 in the pokey.

Wednesday, December 2: It was a day filled with reaction to the President’s war plans for Afghanistan and as one administration official after another marched up to Capitol Hill, it quickly became evident that everyone hates the plan and further proved the old axiom that if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. Liberals think nation-building starts at home. Conservatives disliked the timetable that starts a withdrawal process in July, 2011. The week ends with the White House being highly uncertain about the specifics of the withdrawal date, further angering the left, but not enough to appease the right.

Oh, and God help us- it was Tiger Day. The greatest golfer of all time, who we all apparently thought was a candidate for the Papacy- turned out to have been very naughty and participated in a slew of infidelities which are yet to settle at a final number. Perhaps the most notable coverage of all this was the animated recreation of Tiger’s now infamous single-car accident produced by a Japanese media outlet.  There was also the voice-mail Tiger left, begging one his mistresses to take her name off her phone greeting message because the wife was going through his phone contacts and apparently making systematic calls. The week ends with one of Tiger’s ladies abruptly canceling a news conference leading to the biggest flurry of conspiratorial conjecture since smoke was seen rising from the grassy knoll in Dealey Plaza 46 years ago.

Thursday, December 3: The White House holds a “Jobs Summit.” Various wise men and women, media moguls, newspaper columnists and policy experts, truck on over to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to share their innovative thinking. The President makes it quite clear Uncle Sam is tapped out and that job-creation is going to be the task of the private sector. Of course, there are things the government can do to help the private sector do this but those specifics will apparently come later.

Friday, December 4: The day is young and unfolding but rest assured Matt Drudge stands ever vigilant to find any innocuous thread of fact to prove there is no global warming, starting the morning with a large headline that screams: “Houston May See Earliest Snowfall Ever.” Well, that seals the case. Especially when you put it together with his various headlines over the summer about it being cooler than usual in some city or another. Apparently, unless the oceans are boiling over there is no threat to the planet from carbon emissions. Tell that to the polar bears and walrus clinging to a shrinking North Pole ice floe as we speak.

And finally, a sliver of unexpected good news today; unemployment dropped from 10.2 to 10% last month. It’s just possible we may have hit bottom. The Dow Jones is very happy about this at the moment (oops- now selling off- forgot how Wall Street loves high unemployement). I think we should all be extremely impressed that the White House “Jobs Summit” produced such lightening fast results!