ORLANDO, Fla. -- Five minutes?
Five hours might not have been enough.
After four months of refusing to answer questions, issuing parsed website statements crafted by unknown parties, and reading from honed scripts before a handpicked audience, Tiger Woods actually deigned to answer questions on Sunday.
Still, the choreography continued.
Offering invaluable access that few would dare refuse, the Golf Channel and ESPN accepted invitations onto the grounds of his home course, Isleworth Country Club, for exclusive interviews. But there was a catch: The exiled world No. 1 gave Kelly Tilghman and Tom Rinaldi a total of five minutes each to ask questions, the first he has fielded throughout the whole seamy, sordid affair.
Given the staggering amount of news relating to Woods and his behavior over the past few years, which has all come to light since his solo car crash on Thanksgiving night, this was like giving a crouton to a starving man. If not a village.
It’s not nearly enough.
The Woods interviews were aired simultaneously on the two networks at 7:30 p.m., at the exact moment that Jim Furyk was winning for the first time in 2½ seasons, at the PGA Tour’s rain-delayed Transitions Championship in Tampa. Just like he did with the Accenture Match Play Championship, Woods inhaled another event in one selfish and ill-timed gulp.
After all, Woods is transitioning, too.
Tilghman and Rinaldi threw questions at Woods as though they were competing in the lightning-round of a network game show. He bobbed, weaved, kept working religion into the equation, he admitted that he had screwed up in transcendent fashion.
“I’ve had a lot of low points,” Woods told Rinaldi. “Just when I thought the low points could not get lower, it got lower.”
Surprisingly, neither network asked Woods about his relationship to the Canadian doctor who has ties to HGH use and is the subject of an investigation in two countries. They didn't ask if he had been interviewed by the FBI.
However, both asked him about the solo traffic accident on Thanksgiving morning, when he veered over three curbs, and through two hedges and a fire hydrant before plowing into a tree. His answer to both was virtually identical and sounded absolutely rehearsed.
“It’s all in the police report,” he said, claiming the rest is between he and his wife, Elin.
Actually, it isn’t all in the report. He never talked to the Florida Highway Patrol about what happened, his blood-test results (if any were taken) were not made available and he wasn’t asked about whether he had taken sleeping pills before the crash, which means he dodged a possible DUI charge.
Despite mentioning several times that he remains in outpatient rehabilitation, he declined to state the nature of his affliction. It has been variously reported that he underwent treatment for sex addiction, and to overcome a reliance on prescription medications.
“That’s a private matter as well,” he told ESPN.
Woods also denied that anybody in his camp had knowledge of his affairs, even though multiple reports have indicated otherwise. The head of his design group, Bryon Bell, has been named in multiple TMZ reports as having set up rendezvous with various women.
The two interviews were taped Sunday afternoon on the deck of the clubhouse at Isleworth, where on Monday, the Tavistock Cup matches will be played. Thursday, the Arnold Palmer Invitational begins and he is the two-time defending champion and a six-time winner.
“I miss the game. I wasn’t ready for Tavistock or Bay Hill. I started too late with my preparation,” he told Golf Channel.
CBS was contacted and also asked if it was interested in interviewing Woods, but the network passed because of the five-minute ground rules.
“Depending on the specifics, we are interested in an extended interview without any restrictions on CBS,” network spokesperson LeslieAnne Wade said.
Good luck with that. Woods is still pulling the strings, issuing quotes in dollops and dashes, and he’s already indicated that answers will not be forthcoming on several key fronts.
Yet despite the brief window, Tilghman and Rinaldi got some seemingly frank admissions out of Woods, though he’s bent the truth beyond comprehension before, so it’s going to be impossible to tell if we’re being played again.
Selected nuggets tossed at Golf Channel:
“I tried to stop and couldn’t stop. It was horrific … You become disgusted.”
“I don’t know what I’m going to do [about playing in events after the Masters]. That, to me, is a little bit bothersome.”
At one point, Woods admitted to Rinaldi that he can’t be sure how spectators will react given that thousands feel personally betrayed by his actions, or are furious that he turned out to be a false idol to their kids.
“I don’t know. I don’t know,” he said. “I’m a little nervous about that. It would be nice to hear a couple of claps.”
Given that a series of sext messages that Woods reportedly sent to a porn star he was bedding are still the hottest item in Internet sports circles, Woods didn’t bother denying that he completely lost his moral compass.
“It was disgusting behavior. It’s hard to believe that was me looking back on it now,” he said to Tilghman. “I take ownership of it. Nobody else did it.”
Albeit, ownership on the five-minute installment plan.