Peter Williams: Playing away par for course among elite

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There are two ways to hose down a scandal. One is to tell the truth. The other is to deny everything in the most succinct way possible.

Tiger Woods, predictably, started by trying option two. The problem is that the cynical and the worldly could smell many a rat right from the start. All the obvious ones.

Just why was he driving at 2.30 in the morning? Why can't anybody outside his inner sanctum get to see him? Why wouldn't he go to his own tournament just because he has a few minor injuries? After all, he won a US Open on one leg. The World Challenge is his event and it matters deeply to him.

Gosh, anybody would think he had something to hide.

So, reluctantly and in a slightly obtuse way, he eventually confessed to playing on another fairway and helped bring this tabloid delight towards an end - for now.

After comfortably seeing off Rachel Uchitel - although her being in Melbourne the same time as Tiger's first visit there in 11 years looks suspicious - the Jaimee Grubbs' revelations were a few text messages and a voice mail too far.

It won't matter for long though. Only one thing has been blown - his fa ade. Men of a certain age always thought he was just a bit too perfect anyway. When you've got a billion dollars, when you're on the road a lot, when you're one of the most famous faces in the world, temptation is constant.

The wonder of it is that he's lasted till now without his cover being blown. Many a great athlete has been through what he's going through now. His mate Michael Jordan got so wayward, he gave a long-time lover US$250,000 to keep quiet. It wasn't a great investment because he later paid his wife US$168 million when they divorced a couple of years ago. Tiger admires many of His Airness' records. That's one he has no wish to beat.

It's not an uncommon theme. Being male, married and a global sporting superstar often means a sex scandal, or at least some juicy gossip, is seldom far away. Cricket's lapped up the sexploits of Shane Warne and Ian Botham. Jonah Lomu's been a serial husband. Pele was a footballing lothario till he married again at the age of 53. Then there's David Beckham and all that Rebecca Loos business.

Did it make any difference to the way they were viewed by sports fans and sponsors? Absolutely not.

And in the goody-goody world of golf, Nick Faldo, Fred Couples and John Daly are just a few with a trail of wrecked marriages and relationships.

Woods is guaranteed immortality in golf and nothing is going to change that. It's very upsetting for Elin but perhaps she may take comfort in knowing that many a superstar wife has had to endure this sort of humiliation.

Some, like Kathy Botham, have stuck through it for nearly 35 years. Simone Warne can't break completely free and Posh and Becks are still together despite it all.

Tiger made a brilliant effort to try and conceal his after-hours activities from paparazzi and the gossip press. It went well for 13 years. But in the end, technology and the hunger of the modern world for old-fashioned gossip and titillation was his undoing.

That and the male DNA. He shouldn't be ashamed. He's far from the first. And there will be plenty more to follow.

- Herald on Sunday

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