Clearing The Air??

By Michael Rosenberg
Updated: November 30, 2009

DETROIT — This is not in the Bill of Rights, but I think all Americans have a right to screw up their own marriages. I don’t know if Tiger Woods has exercised that right or not.

We might never know. It is, frankly, not our business.

By now, you have surely heard the story: Woods backed out of his driveway late at night, hit a fire hydrant and a tree, and ended up in the hospital. He has facial lacerations that seem to be incongruous for a low-speed accident, unless Tiger is in the habit of shaving after 2 a.m. while backing out of his driveway.

The National Enquirer is reporting that Woods has had some weekend pairings with a woman other than his wife Elin. Tiger and Elin have declined repeated requests to talk to the police.

Woods released a statement on his Web site — his preferred method of communication, which read, in part: “This situation is my fault, and it’s obviously embarrassing to my family and me. I’m human and I’m not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

It was a clever piece of writing by somebody — a public-relations flak, a lawyer, maybe both. Woods never really said what the “situation” was. It was a pretty heavy apology for backing into a fire hydrant.

Maybe Woods is implying that yes, he did indeed cheat on his wife … or maybe he isn’t. Maybe he hasn’t decided what to say.

Let’s face it: If you get into a one-car accident outside your house, and you were sober and nobody got seriously injured, there is no reason to avoid the police for three days and tell the world you are “not perfect” and “will certainly make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

It was half apology, half plea to butt out of his business. And really, it is all that Woods owes the public.

Anything else he did (or didn’t do) is between him and his family.

You can say that Tiger Woods owes the public an explanation and an apology, since he has sold himself as a family man. But has he, really?

His wife never gives interviews. Once in a while, you’ll see him give Elin a kiss after he wins a tournament, or you’ll see his daughter run onto the 18th green.

Sometimes Tiger will release a family photo or two on his Web site, but he seems to do that mostly to keep the paparazzi at bay. He does not want to create an environment where pictures of his family are so rare that there is a tabloid bidding war for them.

He does not lecture the media about how family is more important than golf. He does not respond to criticism by saying, “Hey, I’m a wonderful father and husband — why don’t you write that?”

He does not tell anybody else how to live. Derek Jeter wrote an inspirational book called “The Life You Imagine.” Rick Pitino wrote the self-help book “Success Is A Choice: Ten Steps To Overachieving in Business and Life.”

Tiger Woods called his best-selling book “How I Play Golf.”

Early in Tiger’s career, his father Earl hinted that he was some sort of religious figure, chosen to change the world. But Tiger has never claimed to be anything besides a golfer.

I have followed Woods from inside the ropes for at least a dozen rounds in his career. (It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.) People shout his name and he doesn’t even twitch. They ask for autographs and he does not even shake his head no — he just keeps walking.

If people have decided that Tiger Woods is a wonderful human being, it is mostly because he has given them no reason to think otherwise.

Mostly, Tiger Woods just wants to win every tournament he plays, make all the money that goes with it, then live as privately (and luxuriously) as he can. You can wonder if he is a good husband.

You can wonder what happened in his house this weekend. You can wonder if the National Enquirer is right.

Or you can think about the only thing that Tiger Woods has ever really cared to show the world: how he plays golf.