Anyone who thought Tiger Woods might be serious about changing, serious about being committed to repairing his relationship with his wife can forget those quaint notions.
Anyone who believed that a different Tiger would emerge from his tabloid-forced sabbatical can table that belief as well.
For in announcing his return to competitive golf at the Masters in a statement on his Web site moments ago, Woods showed he is the same old Tiger. The only thing he cares about is winning the golf tournaments that matter to him.
To make his absence mean anything, Tiger had to skip at least one major. Those are the only tournaments he cares about, the only ones that impact his legacy. Instead, he's coming back at the most convenient possible moment for him. This is all about what's good for Tiger. It has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else.
By returning at Augusta, Tiger is guaranteed to be spared from the media storm that would have greeted him at almost any other event. The Masters controls media access with the force of a stormtrooper.
No TMZ, no Access Hollywood, no National Enquirer, no one that could give Tiger grief will be admitted. The Masters maintains a strict policy of cutting off media credential requests for the tournament on Dec. 31 of the year before. That means that even many general news reporters from reputable outlets that might be suddenly interested in the tournament because of Tiger won't get in.
Instead, they'll receive the standard sorry-apply-again next year letter that everyone else gets.
Former Masters chairman Hootie Johnson turned down any women at Augusta (for membership), giving up big commercial dollars just to prove his point. Do you think Hootie's successors will have any problem turning down Anderson Cooper? Or Brian Williams? Or anyone who wasn't timely?
This is the most controlled environment Tiger could possibly come back in. He'll be largely surrounded by the same band of golf writers who still write in fear of him. And do you think that any fan with one of those coveted Masters badges is going to risk getting barred for life by heckling Tiger?
The world's No. 1 ranked golfer will be free to do what he does best: Obsess over golf. Which is fine. That's all he cares about. He just needs to stop trying to sell the public a series of tall tales.
That commitment to sex rehab? Phony. That vow that his family now comes first? Absurd.
If Tiger's main mission was saving his marriage with Elin, if he cared about building a relationship with the two young children he often left behind to bang Perkins waitresses, he would have stayed away much longer.
Consider me one of the duped. I largely believed Tiger when he came out in front of that blue curtain at PGA Headquarters and gave us 18 minutes of a Tiger that we've never seen before. Until the last few weeks, I thought Tiger would stay out till the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in June. Now, his return just rings hollow.
“When I finally got into a position to think about competitive golf again, it became apparent to me that the Masters would be the earliest I could play,” Woods said in his Web site statement.
Make that the earliest easiest way he could play. He didn't even skip one major? Is he serious? He may as well have dropped the whole charade from the beginning.
Tiger's probably laughed about it all with his fellow cheating buddy Michael Jordan. If Tiger had his way, he'd only play in the majors. This absence will probably do wonders for his already unmatched game. He avoided four months of wear and tear on his repaired knees, while not missing a single tournament he truly cares about. This is like Brett Favre skipping training camp.
Tiger should run into a fire hydrant next November too.
He's coming back as controlling as ever too, as fixated on making people bow to his wishes and whims. So much for growing through therapy? This Tiger return is on his time by his terms.
So forget the apology, those seemingly real moments of regret last month. Tiger is still Tiger, one of the most selfish athletes on the planet.