owed it to people. But you’re in a different spotlight in that situation. You’re the
world’s most recognizable athlete and, arguably for some people, the most recognizable person, period. I think it requires
a different level of comeuppance when
you’re just human.
DP I think if you did a gallery poll, that’s
exactly what you would come up with.
They’re still awed by his absolute dominating performances – and it seems like
he could turn the switch on at any point
again, honestly. Watching at his event (last
December), he’s a really amazing golfer.
He just didn’t get it done down the stretch
there but I think that’s part of coming back
from what he has dealt himself. But I think
you have a pretty accurate pulse. People
are still in awe of his golf shots and in awe
of everything that came to be.
Pepper won the Kraft Nabisco twice, in 1992 and ‘99,
but took the traditional victory dip just once.
POST Does he have that ability to deliver that
different level of atonement? Or is it a
kind of Achilles heel or tragic flaw in his
DP I don’t know. But I do know in the couple
of weeks afterward there was no comment whatsoever; he totally disappeared
and the rumors went rampant. While you
may have not been able to stop them, you
could have stemmed them with fact.
POST They say in the airline industry, to use a
weather metaphor, when O’Hare Airport
in Chicago sneezes, the rest of the country catches cold. Do you think Tiger’s
troubles and the negative publicity that
surrounded them hurt the game of golf?
DP To use your metaphor, if Chicago sneezes
and Atlanta does the same, it’s pneumonia. And I think that’s what happened. It
went everywhere. He’s so global. He has
played everywhere, totally recognizable.
POST In awe, in the sense of watching a train
wreck happen in front of your eyes?
DP Yes. Exactly. People still ... you hear the
murmurs in the crowd: “That couldn’t
have been. That couldn’t have been.” And
... it was.
POST If you were one of Tiger’s advisers, what
would you have had him do differently in
the aftermath of the revelations?
DP I’d have been up front as fast as possible
because Americans and people worldwide, with honesty, they tend to be very
forgiving. And maybe he didn’t feel like he
POST Back on golf, as a player who has been
at the highest level in your own arena,
when you see him do things that normal
golfers can’t even comprehend, what’s
DP I’m giving you Roger Maltbie as the
example of that. Roger for so long has
been the lead walker for NBC and is with
Tiger all the time it seems like. He has
said, “That guy (Woods) is gonna get me
fired some day because I’m gonna say
something on the air when he hits one of
those shots that I shouldn’t be saying.” So,
there you go. A