About the DeMoss Group
A Speech That Could Save Tiger Woods (by Mark DeMoss, Feb. 18)
POLITICO Playbook: "Alex Castellanos says Mark DeMoss’s proposed speech for Tiger is 'dead on.'"
I'm here to say I'm sorry. I have been blessed beyond measure but have made a mess of my life, squandering the trust and support so many have placed in me throughout my young career. I blame myself for my troubles and now want to apologize to a number of people, starting with my wife. Elin, I'm sorry for embarrassing and hurting and betraying you and our precious little girl and boy. You deserve so much better.
I'm also sorry for bringing reproach to the game of golf. For centuries golf has been universally considered a "gentlemen's game," and I have behaved in a most ungentlemanly way in recent years. I'm sorry for setting a horrible example to the thousands of kids the Tiger Woods Foundation has worked with and I'm sorry for embarrassing the sponsors who lent their good names to me - and paid me handsomely for the association.
Then, I want to apologize to the "good guys" on tour, for living so recklessly as to cause many people to assume all professional athletes conduct their personal lives like I was. I've been fortunate to play alongside countless men who are faithful to their wives, their values and convictions, and I'm sorry I didn't follow their examples.
I don't blame anyone for my recent problems but myself. I appreciate that some have tried to defend me by attributing my moral failures to the pressures of being the top-ranked golfer, or losing my father, living in the spotlight and so on. They should stop deflecting and place the blame where it belongs - squarely on my shoulders.
There has been much debate in recent weeks about privacy and how much of it celebrities are entitled to. I can't speak for other celebrities but I will tell you this: as much as I cherish privacy, I don't deserve it and certainly don't consider myself entitled to it. I forfeited any benefit of doubt and privacy by my terrible actions and must now suffer the consequences. I can't expect the same media that reports my professional successes to people around the globe (which helped me earn a lot of money) to now ignore my personal failures. I understand and accept that - and could have controlled it by my own actions.
Now, since there has been so much speculation about what I'm going to do next, I thought I would tell you myself.
- I will not play any of golf's four major tournaments in 2010. These majors are sacred in our sport and they don't deserve to be tarnished by my behavior off the course. If this self-imposed sabbatical keeps me from catching Jack Nicklaus's career record for major victories, so be it - he deserves the record.
- I will not play any tournament until I determine whether or not my marriage can be salvaged. No trophy or prize money is more important than my relationship with Elin and our two children. I am working hard to regain their respect before I try to win yours.
- I have asked a special group of men - Jack Nicklaus, Tony Dungy and a pastor of their choosing - to mentor me and hold me accountable for my behavior for at least two years. I will tell them where I'm going, what I'm doing, who I'm with and will invite any question about anything in my life from any of them at any time. I am humbly and wholeheartedly submitting to them for my personal rehabilitation and restoration.
- I have written my remaining sponsors asking to be released from all current agreements. It has not been fair for the companies who have invested so much in me to have to make decisions about whether or not to continue these relationships, so I want to make the decision for them. In time I will begin working to rebuild the trust these people have placed in me. In the meantime, I will earn nothing from sponsors and will contribute a tithe of all they paid me last year to each company's foundation to further the charitable work of their choosing.
Finally, I am asking God and Elin for a second chance. I know God offers this, but I could not expect Elin to. If she does I will be getting a life-saving mulligan I don't deserve. Either way, I ask forgiveness and commit to do better. I was wrong. I'm sorry.
Mark DeMoss is president of The DeMoss Group, an Atlanta-based public relations firm, and frequently provides crisis management counsel. He is author of The Little Red Book of Wisdom (Nelson Business, 2007).