OH dear, as we say in the area of Bolton graced by Old Links Golf Club. Squeaky clean Tiger has fallen from his pedestal with a crash which has reverberated around countries of the world where the private life of its richest and most famous sportsperson is considered of greater importance, and therefore interest, than the day to day mechanics of trying to survive famine, thirst, deadly disease, bullets and bombs. People who wallow in the humiliation of previously blemish-free icons, snigger and salivate over the endless stream of women linked to the golf superstar, or “love rat Tiger”, as the tabloids have predictably labelled Woods.

Everyone who follows sport, even those with only passing interest, has heard of Tiger Woods. He has dominated major golf tournaments for years. Feted as a man of scrupulously clean living, he stood for everything honourable and praiseworthy in a fiercely competitive sport. The fact that he is black but has achieved phenomenal success through prodigious talent and self-belief in an arena almost exclusively white, was further reason to genuflect when his name was mentioned.

Now, caught with his trousers down, not literally, thank goodness, but as good as, Tiger has metamorphosed into a latter day Jack the Ripper following media frenzy over his extra-marital dalliances with at least six women, individually, not collectively I hasten to add. He’s a world-class golfer, not an Olympic standard bedroom gymnast, although he may well be. We will have to await the inevitable tabloid revelations by the mistresses, none in the same league as his gorgeous, Swedish wife.

No doubt his PR people will work overtime on damage limitation to the Woods image, worth millions in endorsements. I wouldn’t want the job, although it’s serial adultery their client stands accused of, not snorting coke in the men’s locker room, nor microwaving the family’s pet gerbil in a fit of pique over a missed putt. But in high-tech communication links, namely e-mails, blogs and twitter, Tiger has become the butt of corrosive comments and one-liners about his behaviour.

By all accounts he is a proud, intensely private man; glacial almost, as one observer described him, unless, another added, you happen to be a cocktail waitress with long legs and a prominent chest. Being type-cast as a sexual predator, and a hypocrite who cheated on his wife, will be searing into his soul, as will the snide dismissals by bigots and racists. In public they smile condescendingly; in private they greet Tiger’s fall as inevitable for someone of colour, elevated by sporting prowess to a position in society he didn’t deserve and couldn’t justify.

I recall being on the sports desk of a national newspaper 50 years ago when a fellow sub-editor was told to write a caption for the wedding photo of a well-known golfer. The room collapsed into howls of laughter when he submitted words which read (I kid you not): “So and so keeps a firm hand on his club as he poses with his bride so and so...” It was amended before appearing in print. Tiger won’t get similar consideration.