The language of golf has been ruined because of Tiger Woods' philandering ways, says Paul Holmes.
I was not going to write about Tiger this week. My wife suggested I leave him alone and the rest of the world should too. But what else is there? ACC levies going up next year? The Easter Bill being defeated in Parliament? The Labour Caucus being completely united behind Phil Goff? Hardly.
The sudden, incredible destruction of the career and image of Tiger Woods just continues to amaze. In terms of destruction it is rivalled only by the Titanic. It is the human equivalent of the giant, unsinkable ship colliding fatally with the iceberg in the dead of the cold black night in the wastes of the North Atlantic, to lie within a couple of hours dead, 3000 ft below the frigid ocean floor.
As my friend Eric Young wrote in another newspaper last week, no good can ever come of a legendary sporting superstar, the world's first billionaire athlete and self-professed family man, smashing his Cadillac into a fire hydrant outside his mansion at 2.30 in the morning with his beautiful wife smashing the windows with a gold club. No wonder CNN spent a couple of hours with cameras trained on the mansion and the street. Word was getting out. They knew something. The world was about to come crashing down on Tiger Woods.
It wasn't just the dream family of Tiger and Elin and the two little children. It was Tiger and Rachel and Jaimee and Kalika and Mindy and Cori and Jaime and Holly and an English television presenter and unidentified and unidentified and, apparently, a cougar. It was Tiger and a string of women. It was all a lie. The image he and his people worked so carefully to cultivate and maintain was a charade.
That is why the story has become so huge. Tiger Woods, for heaven's sake, was being outed as a serial stickman. A philanderer. That is what has damaged him so commercially. He is found out as being so far from what he preached.
A female public relations adviser friend of mine says his reputation is completely ruined. The only way he can survive now is to check into a sexual addiction clinic, give half his money away and go on Oprah and lay it all out.
Certainly he has ruined the language of golf and made it very difficult for the commentary teams. No commentator will be able to use the expression "hole in one" in relation to Tiger Woods again. No one will be able to say "birdie". They might still be able to use "albatross", but that does not help because that word is never applied to Tiger Woods anyway. And if things kept going as they did this week, with the women moving into double figures, it might also be hard to meet Tiger at the "19th".
There will be more to come, we may be sure.
And who are these women? Cocktail waitresses, fast Las Vegas woman, a nightclub woman. Main chance women. Women with a bit of the groupie about them, I guess. Women with a little taste for fame. Women who could not wait to tell people they threw Tiger into the sack.
While there might be a million men round the world who will say, "Go, Tiger", those giant sponsors like Nike and Gillette do not like controversy. They banked on Tiger so heavily because of two things: his golfing genius and the values he preached.
Tiger is no better than the New York Governor Eliot Spitzer who railed against immorality then drove over the state line to pay for sex. Spitzer lasted about a minute and a half when that was revealed.
For sponsors, Mr Perfect revealed as a sex addict is serious stuff. His sponsors appear to be sticking by him but they have ceased using Tiger in promotions and you can be sure they will be agonising in their boardrooms.
Tiger is a money-generating machine, but he is down and dodgy, and who knows how many more cocktail waitresses there are still to emerge?
But if you looked at the New Zealand Herald website this week and saw the views of the readers, there was a developing theme of the scandal having humanised Tiger Woods.
There may be an element of reality about that, as if people are glad at last to discover Tiger is not perfect. It may also be true, such is the residual affection for Tiger Woods round the world and such is the admiration for his sublime and simple genius in a game played by tens of millions of people round the world and rated one of the most difficult and competitive of all, that he will be forgiven.
I think it is also true that the world views Tiger now not with disgust, but more with amazement. Tiger. Fancy that. Who would have known? The speed at which jokes arose and flashed on to cellphone screens may give some credence to this.
Another real issue for Woods is Elin - beautiful, discreet Elin, daughter of a very respectable Swedish political family. Imagine what things are like in those lovely homes Tiger provides for his extended family in that luxurious gated community in Orlando, Florida.
Imagine what it is like inside that little pocket this weekend. Elin has moved in with her mother. The mother-in-law and the mother will be distraught. Elin will be distraught. Tiger will be distraught and ashamed. He will be under unbearable emotional and commercial pressures, torn in every way, getting frantic, desperate advice from every which way.
The tabloid rabble is camped outside the gate. Tabloid hell is raging across the world. Tiger Woods has upstaged Copenhagen, the greatest meeting of world leaders since Versailles. The whole world is chuckling about the salacious adventures of Tiger with that string of gorgeous, naughty women.
But there is another thing that needs to be said in mitigation for Tiger Woods. Tiger Woods is, along with David Beckham, one of the greatest sporting superstars in the world. He spends months away from home. Hotel rooms can become the most depressing groundhog day spaces in which to hole up week after week. Hotel room, golf course, aeroplane, hotel room, golf course, hotel room, and the whole world wanting a piece of the Tiger action at every turn, day after day, year after year, everyone wanting to speak to him and to make a buck off him.
The temptations must have been tremendous. None of us can imagine the power of those. If a pretty young woman was persuasive enough after a hard golf tournament in a faraway place, who knows how any of us would react. Nevertheless, he does seem to have been exceptionally willing. He does not emerge this past week as being a difficult get. He seems to have needed the lightest of pressure to tip over. And it also appears that at least several of the affairs were far from one-night stands. Twenty times over 31 months, gushed Jaimee in Los Angeles.
Of course, Jaimee has since apologised publicly to Elin for the hurt she has caused. Tiger's playing away from home has been going on all the way through his five-year marriage. It was not even seven-year-itch material.
In the end - and I'm sorry I didn't get on to ACC or whether the Labour Caucus is really united behind Phil Goff, really I am - Tiger is a sports star. And sports stars, it is universally understood, get offered more than their share and avail themselves of it amply. Everyone knows this. Well, we all assume it, anyway.
Time will pass. The best advice for Tiger Woods may be to keep his head down, say nothing and save his marriage. That may be it.
If Elin stays, the world might too. And that may depend on how many more cocktail waitresses come out of the woodwork this week.