Now, if he is true to his stated aim to rebuild his home life, Woods must remove the secret life that had become a part of his successful routine. "He's now got to do a complete 180; he's gone to Elin and said, 'You're the only girl in my life,'" Faldo says. "It's going to be a different winning formula.
"The real biggest change is [whether] he can, emotionally, look at Elin and say, 'You and the family—that's it—are my big kick. When I come off and I've won the tournament, pumped up full of adrenaline, I can come home and be a family man.'"
A decade ago in the Southern California winter Tida Woods sat outside the clubhouse at La Costa, grinning as she gave a tougher, less starry-eyed view of child rearing than Earl's. "You will never, never ruin my reputation as a parent," she said she always told young Tiger, "because I will beat you." That threat, from the dominant woman in his life then, didn't take. Tida's face during Woods's public apology was a mask of anguish.
She also told Tiger something else growing up. "Nobody's perfect except God, but learn from your mistakes," Tida said that day outside the clubhouse. "If you don't learn from your mistakes, you're so damn dumb."
Reputation trashed, marriage crumbling, what other choice does he have? If only for his son and his daughter, Woods needs to do himself a favor; this time, against all impulse, he should start by listening to Mom: Quickly. Huge.