Sam Greenwood/Getty
February 19, 2010 03:15 PM

Look: It is a wonderful thing for Tiger Woods, for his family, his career, for sport, to be on the road to redemption. He doesn’t owe me, or the public, an apology.

But if the world is going to stop for 15 minutes while he begins to atone, as happened Friday morning at 11, then I would prefer something presented at a less delicate remove from reality – less fudged.

His 14-minute speech at the TPC Sawgrass golf course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. was designed along the lines of a 12-step apology. Woods appeared from behind a blue curtain, walked to a podium and delivered (without too much modulation), a scripted speech that accepted blame and expressed regret to the people in his circle and, beyond that, largely by implication, everywhere else.

This gave the event the strangely formal feeling of a mandated ceremony of atonement. The implication was that he was doing this because he had reached that step in his therapy, to which he said he would return at the speech’s conclusion.

If that’s indeed the case, someone should have unplugged the camera. Unless Dr. Phil happens to be moderating the event, I don’t need to see Tiger Woods’s mother listen as her son lists his transgressions.

Even the closing moment, in which he hugged her and others in the front row, all felt like a gesture, part of the ceremony. Then he retreated again behind the blue curtain to resume, he said, his treatment.

I don’t doubt Woods’ sincerity, or his pain, or his willingness to accept blame. And yet the fact that he appeared to us, in a sense, as a patient, means that we are actually being asked not to blame him.

Do you see how confusing he made things?

I don’t wish he had sobbed – he did pause for one emotional moment – or had joked, as did David Letterman, about “creepy stuff,” or feuded with Mackenzie Philips on Celebrity Rehab.

I wish he hadn’t said anything.
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