Earl: “I’ve told Tiger that marriage is unnecessary”

Today’s reminiscence of time spent with Tiger Woods and his father Earl by Karen Crouse of the NEW YORK TIMES elicits mixed signals on what led to the alleged multiple affairs of Tiger. Affairs, as incomprehensible actions, that wrecked his personal life and business relationships.

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(Earl: Explaining The Unexplainable)

Crouse claims that because of his young two children, 2009 was the first year that Tiger gave ground to the media on anything save his steely golf acumen.

His 2-year-old daughter, Sam, and 10-month-old son, Charlie, brought out Woods’s softer side in interviews. When I covered Woods early in his career, the only warmth he exuded in news conferences came from the vibrant reds of his signature Sunday shirts.

This year was different. Returning to competitive golf in late February after a nine-month injury-induced absence, Woods drew me in with a smile that started in his eyes when he talked about his children. When he was asked about the birth of Charlie or how he occupied himself while recovering from knee surgery, his eyes grew moony and his voice was lilting — a marked departure from his monotone.

Crouse then noted the now-regrettable headlines of pieces she wrote about Tiger this past year:

“The Family Guy Is Back on the Course” and “All Eyes Are on Tiger, the Father.”

Those anecdotes make Tiger’s betrayal to his family that much more inexplicable.

But Crouse also recounts sentiment from Tiger’s father Earl that, once again, helps us understand why the golfer elected a path of personal self-destruction.

Woods’s parenting role model was his father, Earl, who was committed to rearing him after having two sons and a daughter in a failed first marriage. Earl, a retired Army officer, attributed the divorce to military obligations that took him away from the family. Asked how he would manage to be there for his children when golf takes him away from home so much, Woods told me, “It’s going to be a lot more difficult, there’s no doubt.”

Perhaps Woods was destined to be like his father, only not in the way he had hoped. Over lunch on the veranda at the Masters one year, Earl Woods said, “I’ve told Tiger that marriage is unnecessary in a mobile society like ours.”

It’s easy to pile on Tiger’s late father for the golfer’s unthinking sins against so many, and if you were to ask Tiger why he did what he did, I’m sure he wouldn’t blame his dad.

But the more we learn about Earl and his relationship with his son, the more we can only conclude that his influence on Tiger is the primary explanation for what otherwise is unexplainable.