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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, February 20, 2010

Talk is cheap; now time for action

By Ferd Lewis

The most telling words spoken by Tiger Woods yesterday were not even his own.

And, we're not talking about some of the ones presumably crafted and polished by his handlers that Woods seemed to have little attachment to in a 13 1/2-minute performance that flowed between heartfelt contrition and robotic recitation.

The crux of his spiel were the sentiments Woods credited to his wife. "As Elin pointed out to me," Woods said, "my real apology to her will not come in the form of words; it will come from my behavior over time."

Indeed, what he does the next months and years will say more about Woods than anything that passed his lips during yesterday's infomercial.

What Woods does in real life will speak more to defining the man than anything we glimpsed from the choreographed scene in front of the blue curtain.

It will speak not only to his aggrieved family, which, except for his mother, was noticeable by its absence from the room in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., but to his legions of disheartened fans and disappointed sponsors.

If his mea culpas carried any truth, it will be backed by his behavior in the days to come, not by what was delivered to a hand-picked studio audience that might have as easily been extras plucked from Hollywood.

For some people Woods merely returning to his winning ways on the PGA Tour, whenever he chooses to get around to it again, will be enough. They are probably the ones who had the most realistic grip on the whole Tiger Woods phenomenon from the beginning. They admired him for his golf prowess alone and passed on all the other expectations and marketing.

For his sponsors and the PGA, Woods just drawing distance from the tarnish on his brand will be welcome progress after nearly three months of being a tabloid cover mainstay and comedian's punchline.

For most of us who have been waiting for him to step beyond his web site, the apologies and occasional glimpses of vulnerability should suffice. After all, for all his indiscretions and infidelities, Woods was not some high public official sworn to the public trust or someone elected to be the nation's moral compass. Though Woods' marital transgressions give him plenty of company in the political realm.

The Woods worshipers will likely return, though albeit with a more discerning eye. And the haters will continue to do what they do, unswayed.

The folks that matter most will, of course, be the ones to whom the betrayal was heaviest, his family. The ones to whom the future, not yesterday's sideshow, will speak loudest.