Tiger Woods takes leave of absence from golf

December 11, 2009 | Drew Forrester

I called this one from jump street.  Too bad I couldn’t have have bet on it…I would have won Ethan a bunch of diaper money.

Last week, when all hell broke loose in the world of Tiger Woods, I had a variety of national writers on the show (including John Feinstein) as well as local marketing whiz Howe Burch.  The eventual end-question always was:  ”What will Tiger do next?”

And I said it from right the start:  ”He’ll take a leave of absence for a couple of months to get his act together and come back just prior to The Masters.”

Woods announced earlier tonight he’s doing just that, taking a leave of absence from golf for “an indefinite period of time” to repair his life, marriage and family.

It’s the only thing to do, really.  There’s no sense in talking to the media about his “situation” because he’ll never be able to provide enough answers for the questions they’d have.  He’s already come clean and admitted his “transgressions” and apologized to everyone.  What else can he say or do at this point?  He needs to put his family first and golf second.

Tiger didn’t indicate when he would return, but there’s little chance – in my opinion – he’ll skip The Masters or any major championship in 2010.  You only get four chances a year to win a major title.  He won’t miss out on any of those opportunities. They are just too important to his place in golf history.

Conveniently, this leave of absence probably only costs him four or five tournaments if he plays it out through April.  He typically plays the San Diego event at Torrey Pines in late January, then plays the Match Play tourney and/or Pebble Beach in February and gets his pre-Masters work in by playing Bay Hill and Doral in March.

He’s going to make the Ryder Cup team even if he doesn’t play for three months.  Hell, he probably already has enough points now to qualify.  If it’s important enough and Tiger decides it matters, he’ll win the money title and the FedEx cup again as well. Missing four or five events won’t mean anything relative to the Ryder Cup and his ability to win.

I’m not downplaying the significance of Tiger taking a “leave of absence”.  He is Golf in America.  His vacant locker will be felt by the tournaments, the TV networks and the sponsors of those events.  But he was only going to play in four or five of the first 14 tournaments anyway.

Woods doesn’t need to play Torrey Pines in January.  He’s won so much there they’re apt to rename the place “Tiger Pines”.

He doesn’t need to play in February or March, really.  A lot of the tournaments he played in the early part of the season were tied into his sponsors (some current, some former) like Buick, AT&T and Accenture.

Tiger doesn’t NEED to play golf right now.

What he needs to do, more than anything, is make right with his wife and family.

He can win Arnold’s tournament with his eyes closed.  What’s another $1.2 million and crystal trophy to him?

The smart thing for Woods to do right now is to disappear for a while.  He can’t possibly carry on anything remotely close to a normal life with the current story being pursued every moment by the national sports and gossip media; and if he can’t carry on a normal life, he can’t repair his relationship with his wife and family.  So this decision is a good one by Woods.

I’ll assume – until I hear differently from him – that Woods will play one event in March just prior to Augusta to get his game “tournament ready” and then he’ll be show up at Augusta in April to pursue his 5th major title.

I knew this was going to happen.

And I’m glad it did, actually.

This should get all of the fire-breathing Tiger hating-vipers off of his back for a while.

He needs that, too.

He needs his family more.

And that’s why he’s going away for a while.

Don’t worry though — he’ll be back.

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