- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 17, 2009

It was when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police galloped onto the scene that the whole thing, for me, ceased being real. Just when you think the Tiger Woods melodrama can’t get any crazier, Dudley Do-Right makes an entrance.

The world’s greatest athlete has become a Human Mad Lib. The storyline of his unfolding tragedy is so preposterous, it’s beginning to sound like the work of a bunch of bored fourth graders on a rainy day.

Let’s review some of the basic elements:

A fire hydrant.

A tree.

A golf club-wielding wife.

A late-night ambulance ride to the hospital.

Women coming out of the woodwork.

Attorney Gloria Allred, noted publicity hound, actually canceling a news conference.

Another ambulance ride to the hospital, this one for The Mother-in-Law.

More women coming out of the woodwork.

A reworked prenuptial agreement.

A house on an island near Stockholm.

Incriminating voice mail and text messages.

Fleeing sponsors.

And now the Mounties, who are investigating one of Tiger’s doctors for the possible distribution of performance-enhancing drugs.

Plug all those into any Mad Lib and see what you come up with. I’ll bet it’s a howler.

Here’s how bad it’s gotten for Woods: John Daly, the Tour’s all-time leader in dissolution, wants to give him advice. After all, Daly says, who knows more about surviving train wrecks than I do? If John does manage to get through to him - he’s been unsuccessful so far - maybe they’ll cut a country western album together.

(Possible lyric: “As a husband I’ve been a flop, but every man deserves a free drop.”)

Tiger is in a bad place right now. His life has become a joke, a “Saturday Night Live” skit. Everybody’s waiting for the next punch line - for the next outrageous noun or verb or “part of the body” to be inserted into the Mad Lib - because there’s the sense this saga isn’t over.

For starters, we haven’t heard from F. Lee Bailey yet. Isn’t this a circus that almost demands his whip and chair? On top of that, the List of Liaisons keeps growing longer (though it figures to fall well short of Wilt Chamberlain’s 20,000).

Indeed, I just read a story that had the words “Tiger” and “cougar” in the same sentence. (And it wasn’t talking about a Mercury Cougar, either.) That’s right, Woods’ life hasn’t just become a joke, it’s become a zoo.

Nike’s Phil Knight is doing the Stand-Up Guy bit, telling people, “When his career is over, you’ll look back on these indiscretions as a minor blip.” Minor blip? First of all, little that happens to Tiger is ever minor - or blippy, for that matter - just because of who he is. And this particular mudslide couldn’t be any further from a “minor blip.” No, this will linger well into the next decade… and possibly beyond.

When I think of Woods - and the cataclysm he’s engulfed in - I think of Edward VIII forsaking the English throne so he could spoon with an American divorcee. Now there was a minor blip for you. In Tiger’s case, of course, what he was forsaking with his cavalier approach to matrimony was the Athletic Throne. He was the King of Jockdom, the most successful, marketable sports figure of his time. The world - from the PGA Tour to the European Tour to the Asian Tour - was his empire.

And it may someday be again. But not now. Now he’s heading off to his own personal Elba to try to put his life back together. There’s no telling when he’ll return to golf - or even to the neighborhood grocery store. After the events of the past few weeks, though, I wouldn’t rule anything out. OK, maybe I would rule one thing out. I doubt we’ll wake up any morning soon and find out he’s moved in with Roman Polanski.

Where Tiger is walking these days, in the tallest of weeds, there are no forecaddies, nobody to help him find his lost reputation. In a lot of ways, he’s back to carrying his own bag. Only he can restore himself to the fans’ (and sponsors’) good graces; all the P.R. consultants and spin specialists in the world can’t do it for him.

It’s no easy task, kind of like trying to get up and down from the ninth circle of Hell. But this is a man, let’s not forget, who can keep a ball bouncing on a sand wedge, perfectly balanced, before turning and blasting it into oblivion. He just has to find that balance in his own life.

Mad Libs Update: In the middle of all this, the Associated Press has anointed Tiger the Athlete of the Decade. Makes me wonder whether I should reconsider that Roman Polanski crack.

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