Tiger Woods, a public figure who had sought for weeks to insulate his private life from a scandal of his own making, made an extraordinary act of public contrition Friday in front of friends, family and the American people. It was as hard to watch as it doubtless was to give.
After a long silence since the Nov. 27 traffic accident that led to revelations of his marital infidelity, a different Tiger Woods took the podium Friday to explain himself. He was not the confident, dignified superstar of golf who had been adored by millions. He was not the heartless philanderer that many had lately imagined him to be.
As his mother looked on, this Tiger was crestfallen, bowed in spirit, a little heavier and apologetic to a fault. The setting was like a funeral where the deceased delivered his own homily.
He took full responsibility for his troubles, he stoutly defended his wife against any accusations that she had beaten him and attacked those in the press who had hounded his family. He admitted plainly to having affairs. He apologized to multiple people in multiple ways and when he said, "For all that I have done, I am so sorry" his resolute voice almost faltered.
It was a scene without precedent in America. Will his sincerity and self-abasement be enough to return him to public favor and the affections of his wife? Hard to say. But perhaps it's the first swing back onto the fairway.