Just when we thought we could move on to talking about golf, Vanity Fair dropped a fresh bomb on Wednesday. (How timely!) Naturally, I ran out to the corner store to pick up a copy. (It’s out in NY and LA, but the rest of the country must wait until April 7.)
While Mark Seal’s piece, “Tiger Woods: The Women, The Kinks, And How It All Came Crashing Down,” doesn’t shed much new information, it’s a compelling read and manages to reveal the enabling roles Tiger’s inner circle played in creating Tiger Woods, the Sex Addict.
What’s most damning about the article is that it provides more evidence on how Bryon Bell and Mark Steinberg helped coordinate and cover up Tiger’s trysts. Now we already knew Bell was Tiger’s travel agent via the emails with travel itineraries sent to Rachel Uchitel and Joslyn James. But until now, Steiney’s involvement had never been explicitly mentioned in the reports. (It was implied he knew about Mindy Lawton when the story about the deal brokered between the National Enquirer and Men’s Fitness in 2007.)
Lawton told VF that when she alerted Tiger the Enquirer knew of their affair, he put her in touch with Steinberg. In a text message, Steinberg assured Lawton, “We’ll take care of it…”
Now this wouldn’t be such a big deal had Tiger not told Kelly Tilghman the other week, “I’m the one who did it, I’m the one who acted the way I acted, no one knew what was going on.”
He lied. Again. Sure, he was protecting others, which is honorable. But he could have worded it differently. Which calls into question the validity of anything else he’s said or will say going forward. Another way to look at it is that Tiger is taking personal responsibility for his mistakes and we’re reading way too much into this. I just wish he would stop lying.
By the way, one of the most important precepts of Buddhism, which Tiger has affirmed will help him find his way back to his core values, is to refrain from “false speech.” A Buddhist abbot recently told me that he thinks many of the world’s ills would be resolved if people didn’t lie. (Duh, I know. But he said it in Chinese and it doesn’t translate well.)
Oh, whenever Tiger showed up in Vegas, where lots of the dirty deeds went down, he was with Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley. Go figure.
More interesting details in the story:
*When Tiger signed the $40 million sponsorship deal with Nike, $39 million of it was supposed to go to Tiger and the remaining $1 million to junior golf with special emphasis in minority golf. Earl Woods insisted that he manage the million and dole it out as he saw fit.
*After Earl Woods fired John Merchant, Tiger’s attorney when he first turned pro, it all went down hill. IMG created “a big cloud. A cloud of confusion, of distrust. He just saw the greed. Then IMG took over, and that was the end. The isolation. The inability to reach and befriend.”
*Not only was Earl Woods a womanizer, but he was also a drunk who once showed up at a black-tie awards ceremony in “little hot pants.”
*Tiger calls himself “Ti,” says Mindy Lawton.
*He bet 30k per hand, with splits and double downs it could climb to 150k per hand.
*Lots of examples of Tiger being cheap, like flying Jamie Jungers on Southwest Airlines and tipping Mindy Lawton only 15% on his black AmEx card.