Tiger Woods Takes the First Step Toward His Inevitable Redemption

Can Tiger Woods win the forgiveness of his fans and start moving toward redemption?

At 11 a.m. Friday, Woods addressed a select group of reporters at Ponte Verdra Beach, Fla., the home of the Professional Golfers' Association. During the highly controlled press conference, Woods apologized for his womanizing and for cheating on his wife, Elin."Elin and I have started the process of assessing the damage caused by my behavior," said Woods. 'For all that I have done, I am so sorry. I have a lot to atone for."

Woods didn't exactly bare his soul during the press conference. In fact, he wouldn't take any questions. But if Woods plays his cards right, this may just prove to be the first step in his long road to redemption. (FanHouse features his full apology here.)

Of course, every move Woods makes will be examined under the electron microscope that is the 24/7 news cycle. It's doubtful that the heroes of yesteryear, such as surly baseball great Ty Cobb, would have survived such scrutiny with their reputations intact. Yet, Americans seem to be more forgiving these days. We love to build up our heroes, knock them down a peg or two and cheer them on as they redeem themselves.

Just ask NBA star Kobe Bryant who battled accusations of sexual assault. Former slugger Mark McGuire admitted he took performance-enhancing drugs. Yet, he still received a warm welcome from St. Louis Cardinals fans when he returned to the game as a hitting instructor. NFL great Cris Carter overcame drug addiction and is now a respected analyst on ESPN.

Why Tiger Will Rise Again

"In the grand scheme of things, I think [the scandal's] impact is extremely short-term," says Casey Alexander, a top amateur golfer who follows the golf industry for Gilford Securities. Alexander says the interest in Tiger remains extraordinary. "His speech today will be carried on no less than 20 channels. The cumulative rating will be no less than the Super Bowl."

As for his future, Alexander predicts Woods will eventually attract new sponsors, which will be eager to be associated with golf's biggest star and the well-heeled demographic that he and the sport attract. Even though the PGA has been bruised by Woods's infidelities, it, too, will embrace him again and promote his return to the game. (It did help stage the press conference today.) Scandal or no scandal, Woods brings viewers and sky-high TV ratings.

At his press conference, Woods said he would be heading back for sex addiction treatment on Saturday. "I need to regain my balance and be centered," he said. " I do plan to return to golf one day. I don't know when that will be."

For sponsors and the PGA, the sooner the better.
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