Tiger takes firm grip as comeback circus rolls in
Friday 19 February 2010
If the apology by Tiger Woods in Florida today goes as advertised, he may find himself having to say sorry a second time. Nobody is sure exactly what he will say at the faux-baronial headquarters of the PGA Tour in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, but the event seems certain to irritate many.
There are reasons for Woods to exude humility. Fans made him into the cash-soaked millionaire he is, and they may feel they have a right to hear a little more about the lace-and-panty scandals that overtook him after his strange car-crash outside his Florida home in November. Since then, he has not made a single public appearance – although in his defence he has spent part of that time in a Mississippi clinic for sex addiction.
Reasons to be riled by this morning's circus include the exclusion of 99 per cent of interested reporters. Three wire services will be there, accompanied only by a few reporters selected by the Golf Writers Association – and questions will not be allowed.
Yesterday, the timing of the apology was criticised by several professional golfers including Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia. Woods' appearance will take place during the third round of the WGC World Match Play Championship in Tucson, Arizona, and seems certain to divert attention from the first big golfing event of the year.
The decision to make the announcement today has also been seen by some as an act of revenge by the golfer, as the tournament is sponsored by Accenture – the first company to drop his services after news of his infidelity surfaced last year.
Security at the the TPC Sawgrass course where Woods will make his televised apology has been heightened, with staff and police working overtime to ensure the safety of the world number one.
Woods, 34, is expected to address a small gathering of "friends, colleagues and close associates" as well as the hand-picked reporters and one television camera. He will speak at 11am (4pm GMT) from the course's clubhouse.
Staff have been told the area must be clear by 5.30am. About 30 people will be allowed in the room while he speaks, but it is unclear if his wife, Elin Nordegren, will be among them.
The only camera in the room will provide live coverage through a satellite link; other reporters will gather in a hotel ballroom more than a mile away to watch events unfold.
"While Tiger feels that what happened is fundamentally a matter between him and his wife, he also recognises that he has hurt and let down a lot of other people who were close to him," the golfer's agent, Mark Steinberg, said on Wednesday. "He also let down his fans. He wants to begin the process of making amends and that's what he's going to discuss."
Yesterday, the American tabloid press continued to poke fun at the golfer ahead of his public apology. Alongside a picture of Woods jogging, The NewYork Post ran the headline: "Warning: Tiger on the loose. Lock up the waitresses!"
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