As the world continues to gain insight to the“transgressions” of golf’s leading man, Tiger Woods will himself possibly have to deal with the loss of many things – golf, marriage, and image, to name a few. Turns out Tiger is just your average guy, at least some say, who’s dealing with hair loss and relationship problems. Though the latter may be an extreme understatement and his balding may spiral given the emotional stress of the situation…
“It’s touching a national nerve, I think, because up to now he has seemed so perfect,” says marriage and family therapist Susan Hartman Brenizer. “There is something about watching someone unravel and be like the rest of us.”
Reports that Tiger’s wife, Elin Nordegren, gave her husband an ultimatum after the revelation of his affairs have been followed by his decision to give up golf for an indefinite period. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Elin told Tiger that he has to give up golf in order to save their marriage or wait until their two children (both under the age of 3) are old enough that the whole family can travel with him.
But the golfing world is now in disarray. Sponsors have been pulling out of deals that involved the game’s number one draw card and a man who recently was named by Forbes magazine as the world’s first athlete to be worth $1 billion.
Though there have been mixed reactions to his decision to give up golf, many believe Tiger needs to get his priorities in order. Like his agent, Mark Steinberg, wrote, “The entirety of someone’s life is more important than his career.”
European Ryder Cup star Paul McGinley says Tiger’s main priority now is to rebuild his life: “At the age of 34 he can take as much time as he needs to get it right. But golf needs him back, and sooner rather than later.”
Meanwhile Pete Cowen, coach of Lee Westwood, says he sees no reason why Tiger cannot remain dominant until his return: “His break from playing will give him time to address his situation, to prioritise what he wants to do and to assess if he wants to play again. He is going to have to have a reappraisal [of what he values most].”
On the other hand, Jamil Qureshi, a mind coach who has worked with the Europe Ryder Cup team believes otherwise: “The King is dead, the monopoly is over,” Qureshi said. “Players will be rubbing their hands together thinking that it will now be more of a level playing field. When he returns, I don’t think Tiger will be as prolific.”
Then again, there is the consideration that Woods may not return to the game, as renowned American sports psychologist Dr Bob Rotella reminds us.
“The question is not how will he play, but does he want to play golf again?” Rotella said. “He needs to ask himself, ‘What’s more important, my family or my golf? Can we have both?’ By taking time out he has indicated to Elin [his wife] that he is willing to give up the game. He must ask himself what kind of life he wants.”
As Susan has said, Tiger is a man who “has had to have everything be perfect, down to every hair on his head”. And while his personal misconduct is undoubtedly shocking, it is not unusual behaviour for prominent celebrities, she says. Still, he must now take responsibility for his actions.
“A celebrity can begin to feel invincible, like nothing can touch me, that I can get away with anything and no one will ever hold me accountable. They can fall prey to that,” Susan said. “[Tiger has] put the intact family at risk, and he has to take responsibility for that… [But] we need to not lose sight of the fact that this is a young family that is being publicly humiliated, the children, the wife and even Tiger himself.”
Indeed, the stress of a marriage and family breakdown is enough to cause any number of physical and emotional ailments, including depression, increased blood pressure, decreased sex drive, and hair loss. And fresh rumours that Tiger could be heading for a record £180 million divorce payout if Elin decides to leave the golfer are likely to add insult injury. The 34-year-old has been snapped with a receding hairline and a bald spot and one can only speculate as to the extent of hair loss he’s likely to suffer amidst the myriad worries he has at present.
Of course, amid the loss of his impeccable reputation, golfing career, and possibly his wife, Tiger presumably has a lot more pressing concerns than how to maintain his hair growth. Nevertheless, if he ever returns to the golf course it will undoubtedly be a very different Tiger Woods that the world will see, and perhaps not only in his demeanour.