I grew up in Kansas City idolizing Tom Watson who, along with George Brett, is the biggest name in K.C. sports history. But even I couldn’t force down Watson recently letting the “cat out of the bag” about Tiger Woods.
(Watson: Divorce then marriage 20 mos. later to ex-wife of PGA player)
Apparently Watson has a very, very short memory about his own personal life.
In December, 1997, Linda Watson, Tom’s wife of 25 years, left him.
In August, 1999, Golf Digest reported:
(Longtime Watson friend since childhood) David Wysong saw the Watsons’ marriage in trouble. “Linda gave Tom all her support, because she’s a generous, giving person. But you have to grow together or you grow apart. I guess they grew apart, and I blame the profession.” (Linda Watson said she had no comment for this story.)
Golf Digest reported that in the aftermath of Watson’s divorce, his teenage children had cut him off, “the divorce has put the children all but out of his reach.”
So Watson’s wife of 25 years, who had been with him since high school, files for divorce. His kids cut him off. Less than two years later, Watson is married to a woman who had just left another PGA Tour player.
So how did Watson handle that suspicious series of events in public? Exactly like Woods. He didn’t handle it at all.
In a 1998 profile of Watson, Michael Bamberger of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED noted that Watson refused to talk about his divorce.
His private life is another matter. Last November he quit drinking. In December, Linda Watson, Tom’s wife of 25 years, filed for divorce. Later that month his 22-year relationship with Ram took a turn when his contract with the club manufacturer expired. Watson is shopping for a new deal, with Ram among his suitors.
Watson is not, bless his heart, a modern. He realizes this is the age of the public confessional, but he wants no part of it. He discusses intimate things with the people he is closest to, (Sandy) Tatum and Chuck Rubin, his brother-in-law (for now) and manager, and not with you and me and millions of other strangers. Ask him about his relationship with his father, Ray, and he says, “I love my dad.” That’s it. The rest of it—the nature of his relationships with his father, his son, his daughter, his wife, even his caddie—is his business and not yours.
To this day, there’s never been one word printed about why Linda Watson left her husband. The most we have to go on was this somewhat telling though nebulous comment from Watson a year after he stonewalled SI:
“I’m still struggling with it, with the problems I’ve created for other people, like Linda and my kids. … I’m still struggling with the relationships being severely strained. I’ve never been one to intentionally hurt anybody. Never. I’m not the kind of person who gets my thrills out of making somebody feel bad. The role that I’ve put myself in, with my kids and my ex-wife, I live with it now.”
So Watson created “problems” for his ex-wife while making her “feel bad”? But wasn’t it Linda who filed for divorce? Also, Tom Watson friend Wysong attributed the divorce to his “profession.” A profession I might add that indirectly produced Watson’s second wife less than two years after his first wife left him.
So with all that as a backdrop, here’s Tom Watson yesterday in Dubai talking about Tiger Woods:
“I’ll let the cat out of the bag. Tiger has to take ownership of what he has done. He must get his personal life in order. I think that’s what he’s trying to do. And when he comes back he has to show some humility to the public.
“I would come out and I would do an interview with somebody and say, ‘You know what? I screwed up. And I admit it. I am going to try to change. I am trying to change. I want my wife and family back.’”
If Watson’s own personal ordeal had happened in 2008 and not 1998, why do I have a feeling he’d be going Arnold Palmer on us right about now.
UPDATE (4:49): I’m not suggesting that Watson’s situation in the late ’90s comes close to mirroring what Woods did. That wasn’t the point of the piece.
There are clearly details of Watson’s personal life that reflect poorly on him, yet he’s refused to specifically address those unsavory details in public.
Now, with an atom bomb exploding Woods’ marriage, Watson is prodding him to go public about it.