Just when Tiger Woods thought it was safe to go back to hitting golf balls, another magazine article packed with revelations is hitting the newsstands.
The portrait of Woods painted in the current issue of Vanity Fair by several of his former mistresses is beyond unflattering. As written by contributing editor Mark Seal, it is a lurid and tawdry tale of a voracious sex addict who is also both a high-stakes gambler and a notorious cheapskate.
In addition, Seal reveals that Woods’ deceased father, Earl Woods, was also a womanizer who once showed up drunk at a father-of-the-year awards dinner at which he was the honoree.
A double life
“This is a story all about duplicity,” Seal told TODAY’s Ann Curry Wednesday in New York. “On one hand, you have a man who’s holding himself out to be a paragon of family values, but yet he led a secret life. And it all came crashing down only four months ago, which is a remarkably short amount of time — on Thanksgiving night in his home.”
What’s more, Seal reports, Woods’ inner circle of friends and even his agent were involved in covering up his infidelities. If true, this revelation would contradict Woods’ insistence that he kept his philandering a secret from everyone, including those closest to him.
The women paint Woods as being sexually insatiable as well as extraordinarily cheap. Only one, Ferriolo, said he bought her anything substantial when he allowed her to charge a $15,000 shopping spree to his hotel room. Lawton said he once bought her a Subway chicken-wrap sandwich. Jungers told Seal one of the reasons she broke off her affair with Woods was because he refused to help her when she needed financial assistance.
Although Woods had a number of mistresses, none knew about the others, Seal said.
“The sad thing about it is, they all seemed to think they were the only one,” he told Curry.
‘Hell hath no fury’
None of the women was paid by Vanity Fair for her story. Curry asked Seal why they came forward.
“I think hell hath no fury,” Seal said. “The women came forward. They all seemed to keep some sort of evidence — text messages, e-mails, phone calls — as if they were going to use them at a later date, which indeed they have.”
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Lawton was a waitress at a Perkins restaurant near Woods’ Florida home. She told Seal she met him when he came in for breakfast with his wife, Elin. As the couple were eating, she said, Woods was eyeing her with obvious desire.
Lawton said that Woods would meet her in a CVS parking lot and they would both drive to his home, where they had wild sex in the garage, the kitchen, the den and everywhere else — except for the master bedroom.
She also had sex with him in his car in a parking lot, and The National Enquirer found evidence of it.
“Mindy Lawton in the story says that after the Enquirer allegedly found out about the affair, she called Tiger and Tiger told her to call [Woods’ agent] Mark Steinberg, and he said, ‘We’ll take care of it,’ ” Seal said.
This directly contradicts Woods’ statement that Steinberg knew nothing of his infidelities.
Encouragers and enablers
The women also said that one of Woods’ oldest friends and business partners, Bryon Bell, facilitated the affairs by setting up “meetings” with Woods and arranging air travel — always in coach.
Woods’ former attorney, John Merchant, also talked to Seal, and said that he had warned Woods early in his career to stay away from former NBA superstars Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, both notorious high-stakes gamblers.
“Stay away from that son of a bitch, because he doesn’t have anything to offer to the f------ world in which he lives except playing basketball,” Merchant said he told Woods in regard to Jordan.
As for both Jordan and Barkley, Merchant told Seal, “Are they his black role models? You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Seal said Woods would sometimes gamble in special high-roller suites in Las Vegas with Jordan and Barkley, playing $25,000 on a hand of blackjack.
Sins of the father
The picture of Woods’ father is also unflattering, especially a story about Earl Woods being drunk at a dinner at which he was being honored as father of the year.
As reported in Vanity Fair, an unnamed source told Seal:
“Everybody was in coat and tie, and Earl’s sitting there in these little hot pants — short-shorts — and a golf shirt, and he’s got a big old vodka gimlet going and a cigarette burning, and he’s sound asleep, just hammered ... And the announcer says, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, Earl Woods!’ And he jumped up, spilled his drink all over the front of his shirt … And he gets up there at the podium and starts talking psychobabble.”
“We have to give Earl Woods credit, first of all,” Seal told Curry when she asked about that episode. “He was a very dedicated man. He made Tiger Woods into the great golfer that he is, but at the same time, sources told me, he had another side to him … This is what I was told.”
Despite the lurid revelations, Seal said he believes Woods can redeem himself beginning next week, when he is scheduled to play in the Masters, his first tournament since his downfall began last Thanksgiving night.
“People will be hoping that he can come out of this. I mean, if he can focus on that ball again and put all this behind him and come out and win, what a comeback that would be,” Seal told Curry.
“I think winning does a lot.”
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