ORLANDO, Fla. — Stepping away from golf is only a baby step, Tiger.

Now you need to man up and stop hiding behind the protective skirt of your personal Web site and those security gates in Isleworth. Pick a spot. Oprah, 60 Minutes, a news conference. It's your call.

You have botched things badly since the day your world crashed, literally, in a fender bender turned sordid international scandal. You've been linked to more than 10 women, including two porn stars and a local waitress from Perkins. There's bound to be more trouble brewing.

The media will keep trying to dig up names and numbers, and the tailspin will continue. There's no easy out here, and you have a lot of apologizing to do.

It's obvious that your priority is somehow trying to make amends with your wife, if a faithful marriage is what you truly want out of life. If not, walk away and spare everyone — including yourself — the pain of living a lie.

People will forget and move on to the next scandal. They always do. O.J. Simpson, Tonya Harding, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Kobe Bryant head a parade of fallen sports stars.

But we expected better from Tiger Woods. Insert "the world" here, Tiger. That's the "we" I am talking about.

You were The Promised One. The prodigy who gave golf a vibrant new face for this millennium and broke down all those stodgy stereotypes the game carted around all these years.

You sold more than Buicks. You sold dreams to everyday Americans, hope for minorities, excitement to the masses.

It's a formidable burden, and now you have proven to be only human. A weak one, with moral fiber that's knotted in lies.

That's why faceless statements won't do.

"I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused to so many people, most of all my wife and children," Woods said through a statement released on his Web site Friday. "I want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask forgiveness. It may not be possible to repair the damage I've done, but I want to do my best to try.

"I would like to ask everyone, including my fans, the good people at my foundation, business partners, the PGA Tour, and my fellow competitors, for their understanding. What's most important now is that my family has the time, privacy, and safe haven we will need for personal healing."

Most people on the planet — except maybe for a few nosy souls at tmz.com — will give you that personal space you need. But first, show your face — even if it has a few scars or scabs on it from the incident on your property on the morning of Nov. 27.

America needs to get a feel if you are sincere. Nobody can get that reading a prepared statement on their laptop. They need to hear it from you.

I know you hate the intrusion. You're a private person feeling private pain. But this is far beyond a marital dust-up.

It's about the sport of golf that embraces you as its iconic star. It's about all the sponsors that bear your name. It's about all the fans, rich and poor, black and white, hacks or scratch golfers. You have let a ton of people down. Disappointed them, made them feel betrayed, angry, clueless as to why you took such a dark path.

Prepared statements have a funny feel to them. Are you hiding something else?

At 33, you're young enough and strong enough to recover from the pain of your own sins. But it's going to be the hardest thing you will ever do. Winning 71 PGA Tour events and 14 major championships, will be a breeze compared to this.

Use that same manic drive we see on the golf course, Tiger. Approach this with that fist-pump energy that makes you such a dynamic force on Saturdays and Sundays.

Make your redemption all about purpose and passion.

But first, make it personal.