It had all the trappings of a funeral -- the formality, the somberness, the hugs afterward. Maybe back home, neighbors brought over casseroles.
In truth, it was very much a funeral the world saw Friday. It was as if Tiger Woods -- who, with "malice of no thought," killed his former clean-cut, all-American image -- gave his own eulogy. And, like a death, it has left a lot of sad people -- not the least of which are the family members he betrayed.
And so, after months in which the world was eager to view the body, the old Tiger Woods (1996-2009) is now buried. A new one must rise in its place.
The question is when that might be, what that will look like and how it will be met by the golf world and the real world.
Tiger's obscure language indicates even he may not know the "when" yet, saying, "I do plan to return to golf one day, I just don't know when that day will be. I don't rule out that it will be this year."
That sounds an awful lot like a still-young man who is, for the first time, beginning to sort out his life's priorities, and who is finding that golf may not be No. 1.
Many folks might have assumed his public statement Friday would be an ice-breaker for an impending return to a smaller tournament as a warmup to the Masters in April. It's a topic on the minds of many in Augusta. And he must know that Augusta National would be a safe, civil environment where he'd be free to focus on his craft rather than fielding questions and fending off catcalls.
But the tenor of his statement Friday doesn't reflect the kind of urgency required of such a hastened return to a major tournament. Moreover, it's likely the ultra-competitive Tiger Woods has little taste for appearing at the Masters unless he feels he's at the top of his game. We'll just have to wait and see.
Consider, too, that he's involved in much more than simply retooling his game or rebuilding his image. Judging from his contrite appearance Friday, and a new round of treatment he said he was headed for afterward, he's engaged in an all-out renovation of the soul.
We wish him well. We pray for his family's and his fans' healing. And we join them all in mourning the passing of the Tiger Woods that is no more -- and apparently never really was.