View From Breakfast Joint: Tiger Still Has Egg on His Face
In search of perspective, I bought the Tiger Woods breakfast Friday. As he was laying it on thick in Ponte Vedra, I was pouring syrup at Perkins.
Not just any Perkins, but Ground Zero. This is where Woods used to order egg-white omelets and red-hot sex from a waitress.
The bill has come due and Woods offered a heaping helping of contrition. It was Celebrity Apology 2.0, and Woods probably swayed some independents.
But if you went in thinking he's a lowlife, you found his performance predictable, robotic and insincere. If you went in thinking he's a great golfer and everything else is between him and his wife, you left more convinced of that than ever.
Put me in the cynic's corner, despite my server's opinion as I tried to digest some undercooked sausage patties.
"I'm not giving him a pass, but all I care about is he's playing golf," Francois said. "If he was a murderer, that'd be something different."
Yes, his name was Francois. I went to Perkins hoping to see things the way Tiger used to. Just my luck, I get the one male server in the building.
Francois knew Mindy Lawton, aka. Mistress No. 4 or 14 or 124? He had no idea the Escalade in the parking lot used to ferry her across the street to the Methodist church parking lot, where an $8-an-hour waitress and a $100-million-a-year golfer would reprise the Perkins menu.
Ooh-la-la French Toast. Or perhaps the Energizer Wrap.
I attend that church, and every time I park I wonder, "Is this the spot where the most famous athlete on the planet behaved like a high-schooler in heat?" Maybe that makes me overly judgmental.
I also remember when Woods first moved to Orlando as his career was taking off. Arnold Palmer invited him to Bay Hill for a little advice.
Palmer told Woods how important it was to be giving to the public. He stressed taking care of sponsors by doing things like committing to tournaments early so they could promote their events.
Tiger listened and nodded and said all the right things. A few days later, somebody asked Arnie how much impact he thought his little talk would have.
He held up index finger and thumb, and circled them together.
Fast-forward a dozen years, 14 majors, 496 porn stars and one famous fender-bender. Tiger is again saying the right things. There's no doubt he is sorry and embarrassed.
But has he really changed?
I don't really know. Neither does anyone else except Tiger and perhaps his counselors. Which brings me to a reason for the skepticism.
Did he have to schedule his Coming-Out Apology for Friday? Is it just coincidence that Accenture, which dropped him as a spokesman, is now staging the world's most forgotten tournament in Arizona?
Tiger's camp says his rehab schedule made Friday a must. With all due respect to the millions of sexual-addiction sufferers out there, it's not like Woods is being treated for a brain tumor.
Is sex therapy so exacting that it has to be conducted like chemotherapy? Is shuffling a schedule that impossible, or was this just a way to stick it to Accenture?
That's one of the questions Woods refused to face. I'm not for a TMZ-led inquisition into his sexcapades, but there are legitimate issues that need addressing.
Like, how does he feel when Ernie Els calls the timing of his apology "selfish." And what about this PED-tainted doctor who we've discovered treated Woods after knee surgery?
You know what his answers would have been. But it still would have been nice to see him face the questions. Ultimately, however, it would all just be talk.
Perkins doesn't have pudding, but the proof will be in that. Will the control freak loosen up? Will he be more open to adoring fans and media? Will Buddhism teach him it's not nice to throw clubs or spew profanities after bad shots?
And will he just have the omelet next time he goes to Perkins?
The restaurant's motto is "Breakfast is just the Beginning." Tiger is after a new one, and I hope he emerges from this a humbled, better man.
But I'll need to see a lot more than 13 minutes of rehearsed contrition. Like those sausage patties, they were a little hard to swallow.