Our Neighbor, Tiger Woods

Other than a few autographed items he’s donated for silent auctions there is scant evidence of him personally giving back to the place he calls home.

Mike Boslet

Scott A. Miller

When i jotted down the idea for this column some months ago, all was right in Tiger Woods’ life, at least in terms of the Madison Avenue image that he projected.

But along came the infamous accident in the wee hours of Black Friday and we’ve since found Woods in rough deeper than any he’s encountered at a U.S. Open. We all knew that Woods was out to beat Jack Nicklaus’ record for major victories, but Wilt Chamberlain’s tally for scoring with bimbos, too? By Monday, he’d gone from Mr. Perfect to Mr. Promiscuous.

What I have to say will seem like I’m piling on Woods, but so it goes.

In this issue you will find eight profiles of “Good Neighbors” (see page 35) – people who do what they can to help others. Their deeds run the gamut, from rescuing pets running out of time to rescuing people running out of hope to donating financial help to good causes. The bottom line is they all are committed to making a positive impact on the lives of strangers in this community.

Woods is not among them, and that’s really a shame, I think. The world’s first billion-dollar athlete has lived amongst us for 14 years, but other than a few autographed items he’s donated for silent auctions there is scant evidence of him personally giving back to the place he calls home.

Meanwhile, another superstar athlete who makes Orlando his home was a slam dunk for inclusion in “Good Neighbors.” The Magic’s Dwight Howard has lent his presence and given his money to various organizations in the area since he arrived fresh out of high school from Atlanta six years ago. His acts of charity are generous and genuinely personal.

Woods, on the other hand, has invested his altruism in Orange County – but not the one he resides in. He has located the Tiger Woods Learning Center and the charitable organization that funds it, the Tiger Woods Foundation, in his native Southern California. You may recall that after Woods snap-hooked his Escalade into a tree on Nov. 27 he pulled out of the Chevron World Challenge, a tournament he hosts for the benefit of the TWF. It’s held in Southern California, too.

Woods does make himself available to charitable functions outside of his former home base, just not here. The lavish TigerJam Presented by AT&T is held in Las Vegas. It benefits the TWF and several local causes. And he hosts the AT&T National in Bethesda, Md., which supports his foundation as well as Washington, D.C., youth organizations.

Hey, Tiger, you live here! We have worthy causes that could use your support, too.

A few years ago I watched Arnold Palmer come off the 18th green at Bay Hill after a pre-tournament round. Surrounded by fans of all ages, Palmer sat in his golf cart and signed everything autograph hounds put in front of him. Palmer, 80, has been this way with fans since his early competitive years; he didn’t earn the moniker the “King” just because he once dominated the game.

Woods’ autograph is one of the hardest to get at a tournament, or anywhere for that matter. He prefers life, on the course and off, to be inside the ropes, the gallery kept away.

Those days are gone, of course, with the airing of all the sordid Tiger tidbits in the media. But it’s interesting to wonder whether the local public would have reacted differently—more compassionately, with an attitude of “He’s only human’’—had Woods given them as much good will as they have given him adulation.

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