Woods image battered but not beyond repair
The world's top golfer has issued a plea for privacy and is dismayed at realising "the full extent of what tabloid scrutiny really means."
If you thought his Cadillac took a pounding in his accident in the early hours of Friday morning, that's nothing to the battering his image has subsequently taken.
This is the lowest point of what has been to date the most extraordinarily glittering of careers. The heights he has reached make the fall so much the greater and that's what so whets the appetite of the tabloids. The bigger they are the harder the headlines.
And there is no doubt those headlines are what has prompted the issuing of the statement, no longer could he and his advisors hide behind a "no comment" sign.
But while the message that he has let down his family will disappoint many in his legion of fans, not to mention the sponsors who reward him so handsomely for his wholesome image, this latest development could ultimately help portray Woods in a more human light.
Striving to be a better person has to be a more attractive trait than trying to be a better driver (off the tee I mean) doesn't it? Because that's been the predominant aspect of Woods' image up to this point - his overwhelming desire to become a greater golfer.
It's clear from the tone of his statement that he still believes that all he should ever be required to discuss in public is his golf. The rest is none of our business.
But as he and his family must be feeling most painfully at the moment it doesn't work that way when you're a public figure and especially when you are sport's first billionaire.
By pulling out of his tournament, the Chevron Challenge in California, Woods has given himself breathing space to take care of the family issues that currently surround him.
Expect him to return to golf probably in the last week of January at Torrey Pines although February's Dubai Desert Classic might make for an attractively lower-key comeback.
Woods fascinates. He is the all-American hero, who could do no wrong - a winner, a champion without blemish and an aura to fit.
He regards himself as an athlete, he has brought athleticism to golf - indeed he has revolutionised the sport to the extent that the game is now regarded suitable for Olympic inclusion.
That's just one way in which golf has benefited from the extraordinary Woods era. Add in the inflation in prize money since he arrived on the scene and what he has done for television viewing figures and it is easy to see why golf should rally around him.
This is a time when he needs his mates. There are plenty on the Tour who like to regard themselves as friends of Tiger, but how many does he consider trusted confidantes?
His big pal has always been Mark O'Meara, but he's rarely at the same events these days - the same applies to college buddies like Notah Begay and neighbours like John Cook.
Woods likes to surround himself with his own team of managers and advisors when he's on the road. Given the choice between condo and a hotel he'll take the self-catered option every time.
It helps him set himself apart, but it also further isolates him from the rank and file. This fits the image he has always tried to put forward of the special one. It creates a virtuous circle; greatness because of great results leads to great results because of greatness.
But now that circle has been somewhat dented. Woods needs his friends and I suspect he will be pleasantly surprised when he returns to action and finds that sports fans are a pretty forgiving bunch - actually strike that - most of them are probably not that judgemental.
So they'll still be enraptured by his majesty on the golf course, "you are still the maaaannnn!!" they will cry and he will remain the favourite to win at every tournament he plays.
In the wake of his 2006 Open win at Hoylake Woods spoke of how touched he was by the way the British crowds reacted to his emotion at winning his first major since the death of his father earlier that year.
He was genuinely moved but in recent times it strikes me that he has been taking adulation from the galleries rather for granted. I wonder if that might change after these events and whether in the long run he will become a more human, and more popular, figure?
Think about the next three majors: Augusta, Pebble Beach and St Andrews are the venues and all have been brought to their knees by the great Tiger Woods. Even with all this going on it's hard to imagine a second successive year without a major victory in 2010.
Obviously, though, right now his priorities are elsewhere.