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Why my mom won't watch Tiger Woods

By Tom Coyne, Special to CNN
  • Golf writer Tom Coyne says Tiger Woods owes his mom, a former fan, an apology
  • Coyne says Tiger's fall from grace may keep other weekend TV fans away from Masters
  • Coyne's mom: "I'm pissed, Tommy. I am pissed at Tiger Woods."
  • Coyne says problem for Tiger fans he's become just another one of those guys

Editor's note: Tom Coyne is a golf writer whose books include "A Gentleman's Game," "Paper Tiger," and "A Course Called Ireland: A Long Walk in Search of a Country, a Pint, and the Next Tee" (2007.) His next book, "26.1 to Go: The Quest to Solve the Greatest Mystery in Sports," will be released by Penguin Books next year.

(CNN) -- Tiger Woods finally tees it up this week at the Masters, but something about his return to golf doesn't feel quite complete. He has been apologizing in earnest and in abundance. On Monday, it was to the other players. Earlier, it was to his friends, fans, family, agents, Nike, his caddy, his golf ball, etc.

For the most part, everyone he's apologized to he's made silly rich, so does he really owe them an "I'm sorry?" But before Tiger goes and wins another green jacket this week (which I hope he does, and believe he can), he owes an apology to my mom.

People like my mother, the casual or non-golfing golf fan looking for someone to root for at the Masters, may be lost to him now because of his headline pastimes.

Above the talent and the trophies and the records, what Tiger brought to golf, sport and entertainment in general was tremendous intrigue.

There was a fascination, a mystery and aura about him: How did he do that? Is he human? Who is this guy?

It was the kind of glow that made golfers and non-golfers alike line up for just a glimpse.

That aura has been popped, and the mystery has been made plain. I will always do my bit to boost ratings -- I am a Golfer, capital G. But even for me, worse than making Woods kind of unlikable, this scandal has made him seem kind of boring. My golfing hero turned out to be a cliché, another entitled knucklehead with gobs of money who makes really dumb choices.

It took a few days for Mom to believe what she was reading. And it took a few more days for her to call her golf writing son to talk about the headlines with a heavy sadness in her voice. It was like I had worked for imprisoned investing tycoon Bernie Madoff. I'd hitched my wagon to golf, and Tiger had sunk the whole thing. I'd be moving back in for sure.

She was disappointed with Tiger in a way that only a mother can be. But I was a little surprised when her 75-year-old voice told me, "I'm pissed, Tommy. I am pissed at Tiger Woods."

As a wife who sided with Elin, her bitterness made sense, but what really bothered my mom was that Tiger had taken something from her. On a Sunday afternoon, she could be reading a book or planting flowers or taking a stroll, but when Tiger was playing, she watched golf.

She cheered for him, pulled for him, commented on his well-fit trousers.

"I used to love watching the golf tournament and rooting for Tiger," she explained. But she couldn't do that anymore. Tiger didn't know it, but he had gone ahead and screwed up Mom's weekend. And for that, my forgiveness will be harder to come by.

Recent polls suggest that Tiger's favorability rating has leveled out and might even be on the uptick. Other polls suggest that whoever takes polls about a golfer's favorability rating needs to play more golf.

Nonetheless, the television numbers from the Masters will resemble my last scorecard -- monstrous -- and golf will declare itself returned, reborn, alive and well. But will it be?

Will Sunday golf-watchers with 20 other things they could be doing with their weekend still care? That is the real question facing golf. Could the tarnish on Tiger start to push golf back to that game of just a handful of guys who really give a damn?

I wonder if that's why Mom won't be watching and pulling for Tiger, not because he turned out to be a bad guy but because he turned out to be just another one of those guys.

The former is still interesting; the latter isn't really worth changing the channel for. The end of his aura is probably a good thing for Tiger and the more honest life he's going to now lead. But it is kind of a bummer for Mom.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Tom Coyne