Tiger Woods no longer a hero in Billy Payne’s eyes
When Martha Burk threatened to derail the tournament seven years ago with a protest outside the gates, as well as pressuring the tournament’s main sponsors to pull out, the tournament flashed the proverbial middle finger and ran the tournament without commercials–a sign of how powerful the membership really was, even without the sponsorship money.
So it should have come as no surprise on Wednesday when Billy Payne stepped into the interview room, that he let the game’s number one player have it right between the eyes with a prepared statement that showed just how irritated and embarrassed Augusta National is with Woods’ conduct over the last six months.
“It is not simply the degree of his conduct that is so egregious here: it is the fact that he disappointed all of us, and more importantly, our kids and our grandkids. Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we saw for our children,” Payne said.
Payne, who spoke from a prepared statement, didn’t mince words when he spoke of his disappointment with the game’s number one player. But beneath the strong words in the statement, Payne was doing something more than just rip into Woods himself; he was also speaking on behalf of parents around the world who only wished they had the chance to tell Woods how big of an embarrassment he really is as a hero to today’s youth generation.
“As he ascended in our rankings of the world’s great golfers, he became an example to our kids that success is directly attributable to hard work and effort. But as he now says himself, he forgot in the process to remember that with fame and fortune comes responsibility, not invisibility.”
“But certainly his future will never again be measured only by his performance against par, but measured by the sincerity of his efforts to change,” he said. “We at Augusta hope and pray that our great champion will begin his new life here tomorrow in a positive, hopeful and constructive manner, but this time with a significant difference from the past. This year, it will not be just for him, but for all of us who believe in second chances.”
Let’s hope this second chance is for real. It’s the only way he’ll be able to repair his hero status with today’s youth generation that currently sits in tatters.
On a side note: I’m not surprised to see Augusta take a stance with Woods’ conduct. While he’s a big draw at the tournament, the Masters is one tournament that will survive and thrive long after Woods is gone from the game. If you want my opinion, I think the tournament committee chose to release the statement as a way to distance themselves from Tiger. Sure, they’re happy to have him back at the tournament; but they want people to know that Tiger needed Augusta more than Augusta needed Tiger.
You’d never see a tournament committee pull punches like this with a player that draws fans like Woods. If anything, it just goes to show you how powerful this tournament really is from a political standpoint.