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To Annie Leibowitz, the financially-challenged photographer who took the striking cover photo of next month’s Vanity Fair, “Tiger is an intensely competitive athlete – and quite serious about his sport. I wanted to reveal that in these photos. And to show his incredible focus and dedication.”

To the rest of us, fully versed as we are in the serial screw-ups that now threaten to define the man’s legacy, “focus and dedication” are not exactly what come to mind.

Or, as H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger, the author of the essay accompanying Leibowitz’s photos – taken before Woods’s prolonged fall – observes in attempting to establish a benchmark for the depths to which the athlete has sunk:

“Even Hugh Hefner publicly disapproved of Woods’s behavior, decrying not that he had sex with other women but that he tried to lie and cheat his way through his liaisons without manning up to the fact that the marriage wasn’t working.

Going forward, it is impossible to trust the motives of Woods on anything, whether he wants to be married for real or to reclaim an image so bloodied that his endorsement career is almost certainly over.”

Bissinger is no pop-culture hack – he’s the author of Friday Night Lights (the book that inspired the film and the TV series) and a Pulitzer Prize-winner for investigative reporting.

Drawing a parallel to the lonely character George Clooney plays in Up in the Air, Ryan Bingham, who makes his living by firing people while hiding behind “calculating caring and aphorisms,” he concludes that Woods will, eventually, return to golf, “but with companies such as Accenture, Gillette, and Tag Heuer basically fleeing for the hills, he would simply be a golfer trying to win a tournament. His focus is such that he can likely still win, whatever the insanity surrounding him, but life will be different. Donald Trump thinks he will come back ‘bigger than ever,’ a sure sign the opposite will happen.”

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