- The Washington Times - Monday, December 14, 2009

Tiger Woods is no victim of yellow journalism, as much as he would like everyone to think he is.

That he claimed to be taken aback by the level of scrutiny his infidelities inspired indicates he is either delusional or intellectually dishonest.

Woods did not become this transcendent figure, a billionaire, in fact, solely because of his exquisite golf game. His empire emanates from his golf game, of course.

But there always has been something more at work with Woods: his disarming smile, his seeming smarts and togetherness, his good-guy persona with a touch of cool and, yes, his family.

He peddled an impeccable image that was worth more than his deeds on a golf course. And he duped everyone for the longest time: his corporate sponsors making money off his image and a public that purchased a product based on his say-so.

Not that anyone is naive enough to swallow whole the carefully cultivated images of athletes and entertainers. Yet it is not unfair of the public to expect a modicum of truth in advertising.

Whenever Leonardo DiCaprio feels an urge to preach at the altar of global warming - or climate change, as it has been dubbed down during this inconvenient period of cooling - it is jarring to learn that he lives in a mansion with a massive carbon footprint.

The hypocrisy undermines the message, just as it has with those fiery televangelists caught with their pants down.

Jimmy Swaggart was finished the moment his forays with a prostitute surfaced in the late ‘80s. He did not practice what he preached to his flock.

Woods was a preacher of sort, a salesman. And what he was selling was this wholesome picture of near perfection, this fantasylike figure who still could connect to the everyman, a guy who would be happy to share a beer and story with you at a neighborhood watering hole.

It was all a whopper of immense proportions, as it turns out, for his was not a singular mistake committed on a lonely night on the road, a momentary indiscretion that merely reflected his humanness.

His dalliances with other women - he had been linked to 13 at last count - was a lifestyle far at odds with what he was pushing. His was a conscious series of brazen choices that collectively boggle the mind.

Now his private life has been exposed as so over the top that, by comparison, it almost makes the human train wreck known as John Daly look like a model of restraint.

That the personal lives of Woods and Daly ever could be compared demonstrates the staggering depth to which Woods has plummeted.

His personal life is in shambles, his future in golf unknown after his decision to take an “indefinite break” from the game.

That decision was made in part to let the insatiable interest in his lurid story subside.

That interest, as Woods must know, is the downside of fame.

No celebrity objects to the endless profiles that deify them. They cry no fair only when their foibles are put under a microscope.

Fame is a currency all its own. It can move the masses if used properly, as Woods and his sponsors know to their financial glee. But fame, if used recklessly, can turn on its holder.

“It may not be possible to repair the damage I’ve done,” Woods wrote on his Web site Friday, “but I want to do my best to try.”

Accenture, a global consulting and outsourcing firm, brings to two the number of companies to back away from Woods.

He “is no longer the right representative,” the company said Sunday, a day after Gillette said, in effect, it is taking an “indefinite break” from the golfer.

That could be the least of his financial hits if he is unable to save his marriage.

And all of it is on Woods, not a media that extolled the pristine image until the night he crashed his vehicle.

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