The Last Word: If Woods makes miracle return, he needs to say sorry again

'Broken man' has pieced together his shattered life in just a month and is set to play a round once more

Each day the word gets louder. Tiger Woods is to make his comeback in two weeks' time. So if the word proves true, will this be a time to rejoice, to welcome back the returning hero like the prodigal son? Or a time to scream: "You what? After all that 'I've changed... I'm so sincere... I've got such a long way to go' baloney a fortnight ago?" You decide.

What surely is unarguable is the perception Woods gave off to the world in his televised statement. He said: "I do plan to return to golf one day, I just don't know when that day will be. I don't rule out that it will be this year." Strictly by those statements it was impossible to foresee anything other than a lengthy absence as a broken man sought to piece back a shattered life.

Does a month represent a lengthy absence? Is it possible to piece back a shattered life in the time it takes to stage four tournaments? Who knows? Woods might think so. But then again, he may since have decided to do the repair job on the move. That's his choice, his right. Just as it would be everyone else's right to look back on that 14-minute soliloquy and wonder about an individual who looked more inclined to don a strait-jacket than a green jacket. If Woods is considering entering the Arnold Palmer Invitational before its deadline on Friday week then he should also be considering the flak he would receive. And he would be wise to line up a few more apologies.

First off he should say sorry to all those who took his "mea culpa" to be genuine. If he is teeing it up in Florida then the saddest aspect to me will be the scoffing of the cynics. You know, that smug band who saw the purposeful, look-into-the-camera delivery of Woods's first "I am truly sorry", who then watched the hand going across his heart and who then assured us that this was about as real as those counterfeit clubs sold on eBay. It's all about sponsorship, about the brand, about the reconstruction of the image, not the person. You'll see, they laughed.

Well, many of us in the gullible gallery would finally see. Most of his fans, certainly his British fans, didn't feel it necessary for him to apologise. Just turn up and play again. We always admired him as a golfer. Nothing else. But no, he chose to confess, and so his motives for doing so will inevitably be analysed. By the fans who believed his contriteness more than anyone.

Tiger should also apologise to his fellow players. Regardless of the timing of his reintroduction to their ranks, his fellow pros already have ample reason to be angry. When Ernie Els came out and called Woods "selfish" for taking over the airwaves on the third day of the Accenture Match Play, he was instructed by Woods's agent, Mark Steinberg, "to get your information right before commenting". The players were then informed Woods had no choice but to address the globe that particular morning as he was rechecking into rehab the next day. By and large the players accepted that explanation. The patient would be back under lock and key awhile.

It turned out that "awhile" lasted barely a week. Woods was back at his Orlando home the following Saturday. Question: why couldn't he wait until, say, last Monday to speak? What difference would it have made? Never mind whether it deflected any attention from the Match Play, it undeniably had the potential to distract the players in Tucson. Before they went out for their Friday matches the pros were badgered for their opinions on Tiger's "performance". It was the last thing they needed.

At this point, Woods's apologists will doubtless argue that he owes the rest of the Tour nothing. In fact, they owe him. Without Woods there would be half the interest, half the money. But none of them asked for Tiger to come along. None of them lay in their boyhood bed whispering, "I'm going to grab me some of them there Tiger millions". The majority are too old even to have heard of Tiger when they set off on the long fairway to the big time. They would have done so regardless of his rise and regardless of any associated riches. Tell me, why should somebody like Els feel indebted to Woods one iota? Right now, the South African and his peers have every right to feel fury. Woods should thank them for not being as vitriolic as they are justified to be.

There is one other section of the circus Woods should thank (other than the PGA Tour, of course, who have been quite pathetic in bending over backwards for their No 1 at every conceivable opportunity). Woods should thank the media. Without the media it must be suspected he would still be engaging in his extra-marital activities and in his own words not "have this opportunity to become a better person".

Woods no doubt detests the mudrakers and the mudslingers; but if he is true to his statement, he cannot deny they were ultimately a positive force in his "rebirth". Unless, of course, he was merely sorry about being caught. Return so early and that damnable taunt will undoubtedly receive airtime.

But perhaps all this hypothesising is unfair. Maybe the rumours of an imminent return aren't correct. If so, we should extend our best wishes for a speedy recovery. Speedy, that is. Not downright miraculous. We should then also be thankful as sports fans. A Masters minus the returning Tiger would be a Masters minus ridiculous hype. It would be what it set out to be: a golf tournament. Not some excruciating one-man stake-out.

If the professional game has learned anything from a saga which somehow still threatens to become yet more unsavoury, it is surely never again to rely too heavily on one player and, more pertinently, on one myth. Webs by their very nature are fragile, and deceit spins the most fragile webs of all. Woods and his advisers might be wise to remember that in the next few weeks.

Have your say

Do you agree or disagree with James Corrigan? Email your thoughts about any article in The Independent on Sunday's sport section to the editor m.padgett@independent.co.uk

Suggested Topics
Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
footballExclusive: Former Man United star writes for 'The Independent'
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
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

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home