If you are actually foolish enough to listen to Tiger Woods and his enablers at IMG, then know one thing: They think you are an idiot and beneath their contempt.
People I speak with in the business tell me Tiger Woods and IMG are about one thing and one thing only. Putting their interests and self-enrichment before all else. Should anything or anyone get in the way of that mission, they will crush it, buy it off, discredit it, or do all in their power to spin their way around it. The truth, betrayed spouses, humiliated sponsors, and idealistic children be damned.
A century and a half ago, Abraham Lincoln wisely observed, "If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem. It is true that you may fool all the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can't fool all of the people all the time."
If Mr. Lincoln had been around today and said that in front of Tiger and his enablers at IMG, they would have laughed in his face and said, "Oh, yeah. Just watch."
As Mr. Woods and those at IMG who shield and script him prepare for his coming out party at the Masters next week, they are quite confident they are checking all the boxes necessary to continue to fool a mostly naïve and gullible public. Why? Because they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that certain people who feed regularly from the still massive "Tiger Woods Cash and Access Trough," will continue to look the other way, or, in concert with Woods and IMG, play down the make-your-skin-crawl personal transgressions of the world's premier golfer.
That is not to say that as Team Woods spins its way toward the Masters and back into golf, it can't make mistakes. Bringing in a "PR coach" for Tiger who -- prior to being anointed years earlier by the Bush political team -- had little or no real-world/private sector communications experience coupled with no personal high-level athletic experience or success, was one such mistake. So much so, that allegedly Mr. Woods decided said "PR handler -- Pencil Neck-Geek" had to go. Logic and commonsense dictate that if IMG was going to force a "PR coach" upon Tiger, that person should, at the very least, have played sports at a very high level and have demonstrable success in the real-world of communications.
With that mistake seemingly cast aside, Team Woods is once again back in stride. As they go about their business with the coldness and efficiency of a top-flight assassin, they know they do so with a not so secret weapon in their arsenal. That being that the PGA Tour is teetering at the edge of a financial cliff and may plummet toward economic ruin at any moment. As such, the PGA needs Tiger much more than he needs it. For the last decade, Tiger has not only been the cash-cow for the PGA Tour, but has owned the mint and printed the money for his fellow players.
If you're the PGA Tour commissioner, what's the alternative? A bunch of guys like PGA professional Jim Furyk? Aside from zero personality, even when Furyk makes a birdie or even an eagle, it looks like he is in the middle of getting a root-canal. He, like many of his fellow pros, seems annoyed that he has to even acknowledge the "unwashed masses" or mingle with corporate types who supply their enormous purses.
Many people who follow the sport will tell you that this is the exact moment when the PGA Tour needed and needs Phil Mickelson to step into the vacuum left by Woods. Unfortunately -- mostly because of pressing family issues -- Mickelson has not played anywhere near his capability.
While Mickelson is beloved by the fans, some of his fellow pros don't always look so kindly upon him. Why? For the most part, because the PGA Tour is populated by a number of rich, country-club elitists who never had to work a day in their lives, and who -- other than golf and their own self-interests -- are not remotely curious about the world around them.
Mickelson's sole crime seems to be that he is an intelligent, independent thinker who is (as far as we know) a loving husband and father who has a deep interest in the world around him, current events, politics, other cultures and shockingly, actually really likes fans and sponsors and is willing to give back to those who have made him successful beyond his wildest dreams. Knowing all of that, if the spoiled brats in the PGA locker room don't like him then he must be doing something right.
What Mickelson is not doing right at the moment is winning. The PGA Tour knows that if fan favorite Mickelson can't save them by winning, then they have no choice but to try and repackage and resell the tarnished Mr. Woods.
Make no mistake, there is every reason to believe that Tiger Woods is the best athlete in the world. Period. As one who spent some time trying to play hockey for a living and knows at least a little about sports, I am always amazed at his unbreakable focus and once-in-a-lifetime talent.
Sadly, while potentially the best athlete in decades, he is still a highly-flawed human being. Rather than truly repent and learn from their massive mistakes, it seems Mr. Woods and IMG are going to do all in their power to prove Abraham Lincoln wrong.
Come Monday, they will try, once again, to fool all of the people.