Tiger Woods' kids couldn't stop laughing at the silly antics of a huge celebrity—Shamu the Killer Whale. "They were all giggling and having a great time," says someone who spotted Woods' daughter Sam, 2, son Charlie, 1, and their aunt Josefin watching Shamu do flips at Orlando's Sea World on Jan. 20. "They were really loving it."
Their dad, on the other hand, isn't likely to come up for air anytime soon. Woods is apparently undergoing treatment for sex addiction and is determined, a source close to Woods tells PEOPLE, to "take responsibility for his actions." On the same day his children romped at Sea World, the National Enquirer
ran a photo of an unshaven man they say was Woods at Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services, a rehab clinic in Hattiesburg, Miss. A source familiar with Pine Grove says, "Tiger has been there for 2½ weeks. He's trying to get help." There are also reports that his wife, Elin, 30, couldn't go to Sea World because she was in Hattiesburg and playing a role in Woods' therapy. Neither officials at Pine Grove nor members of Woods' inner circle will confirm he is at Pine Grove or any other clinic. But the source close to the golfer says, "Tiger is doing what he needs to do."
Any kind of sex-addiction treatment will require weeks of celibacy and intensive therapy (see box on page 74). While his team of advisers is busy plotting a strategy to rebuild the golfer's image—"panic is too strong a word, but they are very concerned," says a source with knowledge of the team's discussions—Woods, 34, "isn't focused on his comeback, he's focused on getting help," says the source. Still, skeptics might believe that the fiercely private Woods would only enter rehab to speed along his return to golf. The key for him, says crisis management expert Gene Grabowski, "is to avoid the appearance he's just checking a box to move on with his career. He needs to be a contrite, changed man." Those who know Woods insist he would never seek treatment just to appease Elin. "I know the narrative is that she made him go to rehab, but that's not how it is," says the source close to Woods. "He's the one who decided to get his life straight."
Amid reports a divorce is on hold, Elin would need to see a genuine transformation on Woods' part to take him back—and even then it would be on her terms, says someone close to her. "She doesn't want to duplicate what happened to her as a child, when her parents divorced," says the source. "She wants to hold her family together, but she won't just jump back in. The marriage would be more like a friendship."
How long will it be before Woods can rejoin his kids on carefree outings? Hard to say. What's clear is that "things aren't going back to normal anytime soon," says the source close to Woods. "But he and Elin will work it out. Even if they end up going separate ways, they are being thoughtful about every step they take."
- Wendy Grossman/Hattiesburg,
- Lesley Messer/Hattiesburg,
- Linda Marx/Miami,
- Steve Helling/Orlando,
- Kathy Ehrich Dowd/New York City,
- Suzanne Zuckerman/New York City,
- Howard Breuer/Los Angeles.