Before Tiger Woods‘ world came crashing down — the car crashed that led to a revelations of 14 mistresses, a dissolved marriage, and his “indefinite” leave of the sport that made him famous — the golden boy of golf was shot by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair magazine. He probably didn’t expect things would go this way!
And though the fallen athlete wasn’t interviewed for the magazine, writer Buzz Bissinger analyzes his descent from greatness: “There was no way of ever knowing Tiger Woods — not in golf, beyond witnessing the machine-like relentlessness that made him the most remarkable athlete of our time, and not outside of golf, because he never showed any real part of himself off the course, never stepping outside of the cocoon that he and his handlers … had created.”
Tiger was so well managed, so hyper-controlled, Bissinger suggests, that he couldn’t imagine a world in which his mistresses — many of them cocktail waitresses and adult film stars — would betray him, or allow his perfectly crafted life to spin out of control.
Bissinger says Tiger’s actions following the scandal displayed nothing short of arrogance. “Once again it was sheer arrogance from a 33-year-old man who continued to think he could fool the world.” After all, nothing had ever gone amiss in Tiger’s life. “Nothing was left to chance, not even his wardrobe during major tournaments … He had the trappings of a life: a beautiful blonde wife, Elin Nordegren, who was a former Swedish model; a little boy and a little girl; an obligatory mansion in Florida, outside Orlando.”
What really disappointed and outraged the public was the sense that the image everyone bought into was nothing but a hoax. “It is hard not to conclude that the only reason he got married was to burnish that precious image even more, family man on the outside and … “this whole alternate life” on the inside,” Bissinger writes. “So much of it now seems like … props for the further crafting of image and garnering of those hundreds of millions of dollars in endorsements. It now seems that when [Tiger] returned home after a tournament and vanished back inside his gated community, the persona he left behind, the one he so obsessively presented to the public, was … empty.” —Corynne Steindler
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