Is love helping Tiger Woods to bounce back from the firestorm of 2009?

While Rory McIlroy struggles with celebrity scrutiny, American has the mental strength to cope with it

Few are better equipped to manage the spike in scrutiny that comes with sporting romance than Tiger Woods. Though he is mistaken in believing that the soft-focus portraits published on Facebook will put the paparazzi off the scent, when the long lenses do come out, he has the mental armour to cope.

Woods looked at his most relaxed in his pre-tournament address at Bay Hill, giving fuller consideration to questions than at any time since the firestorm of Thanksgiving in 2009. If the love-in with Lindsey Vonn is responsible for that, we all owe her a vote of thanks. A happy golfer is a better golfer, as his two victories in four events this year demonstrate.

Rory McIlroy is in the foothills of the celebrity process. Until his unveiling as a Nike mannequin at the start of the year he was handling the increased surveillance well enough. His relationship with tennis poster girl Caroline Wozniacki was prodded and probed whenever his game slipped but ultimately he reached an accommodation with the interest. And then came the Honda Classic meltdown and "dental-gate".

The new sticks were not the problem. It was the burden of carrying the whole game, a weight Woods has lumped around town for 17 years, that tripped McIlroy. Ms Wozniacki was invoked in the rush to explain his impromptu withdrawal when in fact that relationship was helping him stay sane. Besides, when you are social media savvy and busy tweeting romantic snaps to all and sundry, the heat tends to go out of that particular lens.

In Woods' case, it is the novelty of his relationship with Vonn that has upped the ante. A couple of uploaded pictures will only whet the appetite. He is clearly confused about that, evidenced by the contradictory appeal for privacy via the global projector that is a social network site. Whatever, Woods is accomplished at preventing the intrusion from hurting his game.

Lower down the celebrity food chain, Wales rugby union pin-up George North and track cycling's new princess, Becky James, are protected by the relatively quiet space they and their sports occupy in the media. That might present a problem as their careers develop.

The same can be said of the golden couple of the velodrome, Laura Trott and Jason Kenny, who are at risk only at major championships and the Olympic Games.

Woods and McIlroy are up there with David Beckham. Search engines and news-stands glow red at the appearance of their names. "Posh and Beck'" has passed into common usage so familiar are we with the packaged elements of their private lives.

Beckham's savvy understanding of how the process works has enabled him to circumvent an undernourished IQ. When he does blunder through a press conference, as he did in Beijing on Tuesday with a woefully inadequate answer to the question of match fixing in Chinese football, it is enough that he expresses his pride at being involved in a project and grateful for the opportunity. Or put another way, it is the bland leading the blind.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships