...comes the strangest turn yet in this saga. No really, it's just that weird.
Let's step back for a second. In the February 1, 2010 National Enquirer featuring the first images of Tiger at a Mississippi rehab facility, the accompanying story includes this from a source:
"Originally, Tiger planned to go to a clinic in Arizona, but when it became known he was going into sex addiction therapy, he decided on Hattiesburg--thinking it would be easier to keep it a secret there."
So the world now finds out Tiger's in Hattiesburg. The Enquirer claims Tiger has invested a large sum to renovate his cabin (angering fellow patients), and that he has rented a sizeable home with extensive security for Elin and the kids for when the dreaded "Disclosure Day" arrives and Tiger is required to talk about each and every sexual dalliance. (I think they're going to need more than a day.)
These anecdotal bits of evidence tell me Tiger really had no desire to be located nor did he want the world to know he was in sex rehab. Understandable. But what's done is done. They've found you, you're behind fences and with recently beefed up security.
But as with everything in this saga, Tiger and his team just couldn't leave it at that.
Assuming you want your privacy back, what would you do if you were Tiger and his advisory team? Remember, these are the same folks who have so far overseen the greatest PR scandal bungling in modern times. So what do they do? Parade out a somewhat look-alike who, upon closer inspection, is clearly not Tiger. (Of course he doesn't have the golfer's tan-lines, but who's going to notice?)
Either way, voila! The photographers pack up their lenses because, you know, the clinic that went on a total lockdown happened to let a patient walk around in the exact same outfit for all the cameramen to see! Tiger must be in Arizona! Then the reporters would see it was not the same man, leave town too and the righteous could declare the National Enquirer got it wrong like they always do! Patton in his prime couldn't come up with something that good!
Well the last part came through, as a few sites were ignorant enough (here, here, here) to fall for this pathetic ruse. And it is a ruse, as the National Enquirer pointed out in a thorough examination and comparison of the men.
So just imagine:
- There was a meeting to discuss how to make the press go away, and they came up with a convoluted idea that now proven a charade, will only add to the farce that this has become.
- There was a casting call to find an African-American man who was built like Tiger but who, in a close inspection of images, was clearly not Tiger because he has arms reaching down to his ankles. So who handled that session and how much did they pay the chagrined fellow?
- There was a prop and wardrobe session to dress this guy up, replete with a Stanford hat and long socks that Tiger wouldn't be caught dead wearing (he's an anklet sock guy). Unfortunately they left out the plastic bracelet Real Tiger was wearing. But again, apparently intelligent people sat around, discussed these details and who knows, maybe even had Nike ship out some of the props!
- There was cooperation with the clinic to parade this model out for the cameras on their grounds, all in hopes of making the press people go away. So they thought this would work too, but at least they have a financial stake in keeping Tiger around for the full 6-week, $60,000 (at least) program.
The only conclusion I can draw is that Tiger or those handling his affairs have become so out of touch that they actually thought this would be a successful and practical move. Yet just as he taunted the press with those website scoldings early on in this saga and his later pleas for privacy that only encouraged scrutiny, now they're trying to pull off a ruse to make the paparazzi go away? Oh yes, they'll really back off now.
Sadly and more important to those who'd like to see Tiger get his life together and get back to making golf history, this latest episode doesn't bode well for that happening anytime soon.