Chris Rattue 's Opinion

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Tiger needs to roar back as scandal dulls

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The heat is surely going out of the Tiger Woods story even though it has been terrific fun while it lasted.

Not that everyone will believe the Tiger yarn is even close to being fully unravelled. To use an old media line, the story has legs and there will be plenty ready to ride this Tiger tale for all it is worth.

Nothing lasts forever though, and for those of us hoping he returns to the golf course with game intact, the moment for retreat has almost arrived because the lurid details are already tedious.

The hero so far has been Jesper Parnevik, apparently the only golfer on the planet prepared to incur the wrath of Tiger's machine by getting a few verbal digs in against the famous swinger.

The rest are, as expected, doing their very best to fall into line because the game would be stuffed for a while without him.

For those who have missed the story so far Tiger has been renamed Cheetah after it emerged he was shagging women all over the place despite being married to the lovely Elin Nordegren.

Immediately after his car crash, Woods' statement claimed "the many false, unfounded and malicious rumours that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible".

This was a lie, and only helped fuel the fire.

And it wasn't the only deception. A publication that was once ready to expose a Tiger "transgression" was silenced with the promise of him doing a cover shoot for one of their company's magazines. This sounded like the old-style Hollywood, and gave the public an insight into how the media is still capable of being influenced by fame and power.

The cover shoot cover-up eventually came to nought. The story has grown like wildfire and there are Tiger shagees emerging all over the place.

Tiger, who had a book written about him called Raising the Bar, is so dedicated to this very activity that he'll do it just about anywhere including in a church carpark. Sacrilege in a Christian land.

At the moment, it is looking very likely that the number of Tigered women going public will overtake his number of major championships won, which stands at 14. Meanwhile, the press has twisted itself in knots over whether to cover this story, and how. You can even find long-winded columns claiming we shouldn't be writing long-winded columns on it.

It was all very exciting at first, as details - including Tiger's fondness for sex-enhancing drugs and the revelation he was discovered snoring after his car crash - emerged.

Where do you go with a story like this though, because it has already become repetitive and dull. Okay, Tiger may not even be very likeable to many of us. But he's still not Joseph Stalin.

Tiger's old shags are raining down, but my interest waned at about mistress four.

Yawn, yawn ... another brain dead cocktail waitress hits the headlines. They are all clearly getting in quick, because once you get too far down the list the monetary value on a story reduces, unless you have a fantastic new angle of course. Thus the further this story goes, the more risk that people start making events up.

As to the prospect of Tiger losing any endorsement deals, who cares. He's already got enough money to run a small country. When it comes to loot, he's a greedy pig.

And as for the whole endorsement business, most of us are still fully capable of shopping for shoes or clubs or balls without some golfing legend telling us what to buy.

The gap between public image and reality has been among the subjects discussed.

We are all attracted to different types of characters which in itself says that the whole deal of public image is false. There are people who may meet and know Tiger and love the bloke, others who think he's okay, others who are not sure, and others who really don't like him. Which is how it is in relationships for all of us in this life.

There are sports stars whose image is not all that likeable - Cristiano Ronaldo for one. But as interesting as their image or private lives may be, it is their sporting wizardry which remains the main attraction for many of us.

Parnevik is the shining light in the Woods story. For all of Woods' hard-won sporting genius, it was sickening to watch the golf world fawning over Tiger the way none of his predecessors, like Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, were either treated or wanted to be treated. Woods' humourless, self-important demeanour on the course verged on arrogant and rude yet was more than tolerated.

Our own Greg Turner could also take a bow, because he was the only one to stand up to the nonsense as the rest of us got down on bended knee when Tiger did New Zealand the enormous honour (lick, lick, slurp, slurp) by playing, not overly well, in our Open.

When it comes to the Tiger story, I have been as much a voyeur as the next person. Anyone who claims this wasn't a big story just doesn't understand what a big story is. We are curious creatures, fascinated by celebrity. Just check out the internet traffic on the topic to see what floats the public's boat.

Hopefully, it doesn't bring his golf down however. He created this situation, and it's up to him to find a way to play his way out of it, if golf is still his driving force and he can handle a new and less fawning environment.

What he's done has been done by thousands of sports, rock and movie stars before him - from Elvis to Magic Johnson and all the Mick Jaggers in between.

Okay, so we know more about Tiger the man, but let's face it - we still don't really know him. And many of us are still far more interested in the golfer. Apart from his individual brilliance, he inspired some of the best one-on-one duels - including against YE Yang this year - you will ever see in golf, or sport. Michael Campbell's US Open victory meant all the more because he kept Woods at bay.

Sports fans who have been utterly fascinated and in awe of his skill and achievements surely can't wait to see him playing again. You don't get to witness sporting genius all that often, and it would be a shame to see Woods cut down - by his own sword as it turns out - in his prime.

While on the subject of yawns, the All Blacks' match against the Barbarians was a rugby match too far and lies, unwatched, on the recorder and will be deleted.

A second rate test team playing a scratch side in a money making festival encounter, in December, just doesn't cut it. It was heartwarming to see the same old excuses emerging after the defeat, however. Graham Henry, All Black coach extraordinaire, told us not only that the second stringers weren't good enough, but that he is going to continue using them. What a thrill. These All Black coaches are superb in identifying everybody else who isn't up to the job, from their own players to referees. The only ones who continually escape these sharp assessments are themselves. And remind us again what Ben Smith does that Rudi Wulf doesn't? Maybe the NZRU thought it was time to throw poor old Otago an extra bone at Wulf's expense.

Time for a wild stab in the dark - BJ Watling will prove to be the answer at the top of the New Zealand batting. Why, because someone has to, one day, surely. Watling is of South African origin, and they are tough cricketers.

His CV suggests he has good concentration. Apart from that, who would know.

As I said, this is a stab in the dark.

- NZ Herald

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Chris Rattue

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue writes about a wide range of sports for the New Zealand Herald. He has covered numerous sporting events for the Herald including Rugby World Cups and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Read more by Chris Rattue

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