I Am Not Tiger Woods

published February 18, 2010

I thank you all for coming here today.  I am going to read a statement, and then I will not be taking any questions.

Before I get started, I’d like to apologize to the people at Accenture for upstaging their golf tournament this week.  I assure them this had nothing to do with their decision to end our sponsorship arrangement in December.  Nothing at all.

In the last three months, Tiger Woods has become a punchline, the butt of more jokes, more tabloid headlines, more coverage and more speculation than any athlete since O.J. Simpson.

I regret deeply all that has happened.  My wife has been betrayed, my family has been hounded, my friends have been subjected to relentless scrutiny.  They all deserve much better, and no one is responsible for that besides than Tiger Woods.

Which is why I have come here to announce that, beginning today, I will no longer be Tiger Woods.

Call me Eldrick.

Believe me, this whole “Tiger” thing has been nothing but trouble.  It was fun when I was a kid – and it was a lot better than when they called me “Urkel” – but it reached a point where it was just too hard to live up to.

“Eye of the Tiger” – I hate that song.  There’s a circle in hell for whoever wrote that, that guy and all the people who shout “It’s in the Hole!”

Would you want your kids to be called “cubs,” especially after the century that team has had?

I know my father wanted to honor a valiant soldier and all that.  It went along with the whole “ferocious competitor” thing, and it helped create an intimidating air.

But off the course, it’s gotten tougher and tougher as I’ve gotten older.   Women have expectations of someone named “Tiger.”  A lot of women.  A lot of expectations.  I’m thirty-four.  I’ve been a celebrity since I was sixteen.  That’s a lot of years.

In the rehab facility, we talked about how addiction often grows out of issues of self-image and feelings of inadequacy.  How could any person avoid feeling inadequate when comparing himself to a powerful predator?

From now on, I will only be known as Eldrick Woods.

I have spoken with Nike, and they’ve agreed that the T in our TW logo can easily be turned to a sideways E.

I am not repudiating my past record, but look forward to beginning the next part of my golf career with a fresh slate.

I have been reasonably assured that women will not throw themselves at someone named “Eldrick.”

This is nothing like Philip Morris restyling itself as Altria so people will forget they made cigarettes, or Ally Bank growing from the General Motors Acceptance Corporation and taking a name that doesn’t remind anyone of government bailouts, or ValuJet merging itself into AirTran to obliterate its safety record.  Nothing like it at all.

I will be returning to golf, and I will be happy to answer any questions anyone has when I do.  As long as they’re about Eldrick Woods.

I hope my wife doesn’t mind the change.  I really should ask her sometime.

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