Tiger Woods sat there and took his lumps when Jimmy Fallon “thanked” him for providing late-night comedians everywhere with hundreds of jokes in the aftermath of the sex scandal that destroyed Woods’ marriage and set back his career.
You had to hand it to Woods. There was a time when he possessed such a prickly public persona that he might have just walked off the show after hearing the kinds of remarks Fallon said when Woods did a guest shot on NBC’s “Late Night” on Wednesday.
But Woods remained calm, took in what Fallon said and then moved on to other subjects, such as the immensity of Woods’ newly built Florida home (with its private four-hole practice course) and the videogame Woods came on the show to promote: “The Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters,” which replicates the experience of playing the famed Masters course in Augusta, Ga.
It was Woods’ first visit to any late-night show since the scandal broke on Thanksgiving 2009. It’s also been a little more than two years since Fallon became host of “Late Night” on March 2, 2009. “It’s been a year and a half since you’ve been on our show,” Fallon noted when Woods joined him on stage. “What have you been up to?”
“Nothin’, nothin’,” Woods replied amiably. “Playin’ bad golf!”
Then Jimmy said, “I want to say thank you for having the courage to come on a late-night comedy program. Honestly, I gotta commend you for that because it must have been a painful and awful situation, the whole thing you went through. But from a comedian’s standpoint and my monologue writers – thank you! I mean, you must have heard every golf joke in the history of [golf jokes]. But it’s like [a] magical thing that happened – your awful pain and we laughed at your pain. I mean, it kind of wrote itself – I mean, ‘balls,’ ‘shafts,’ ‘foursomes’ – it really wrote itself! I really wanna say thank you, thank you, thank you!”
The studio audience cheered and Woods actually sat there humbly, just smiling and nodding. Woods stuck around for two segments. In the second one, he joined Jimmy and the show’s other guest, Fallon’s SNL pal Amy Poehler, star of “Parks & Recreation” on NBC, in a demonstration of the videogame.
All in all, it was a great appearance for Woods. By remaining humble and gracious, he came across as likable, someone capable of acknowledging that he screwed up.
The public loves to see that in its fallen celebrities. And from the sound of the applause Woods received, it seemed as if this small segment of the public – Fallon’s studio audience – was willing to welcome Woods back and let bygones be bygones.