Tiger Woods will finally end his silence tomorrow when he speaks publicly for the first time since the November crash outside his Orlando home which led to a torrent of revelations about his private life. A statement from his agent, Mark Steinberg, revealed "he plans to talk about his past and his future and intends to apologise for his behaviour".
Woods, however, will not be facing the press directly and will not be answering any questions about the allegations of extra-marital affairs which caused him to announce "an indefinite break" from competitive golf in December. "Tiger Woods will be a speaking to a small group of friends, colleagues and close associates," said Steinberg. The assumption is that as the "conference" is to take place at the PGA Tour's headquarters in Jacksonville (4pm GMT) Woods will announce an imminent comeback.
Speculation has mounted as to where the world No 1 will return and how he would front up to the world. Although PR "experts" said it would be wise to make an emotional appearance on a talk show such as Oprah, those who have dealt with him doubted he would ever open up in such a fashion. Yesterday's news seems to back up the opinion he will remain guarded. Indeed, Woods is expected to say at tomorrow's stage-managed appearance that he will not be talking about his private life again. Anybody hoping for a breakdown on the confession box is likely to be left very disappointed. "While Tiger feels that what happened is fundamentally a matter between him and his wife, he also recognises that he has hurt a lot of people who were close to him," said Steinberg.
The Woods camp will be praying this takes at least some of the heat out of a saga which has swept the globe. As mistress after mistress has come forward and as rumours of sex addiction clinics and marital separations have raged, sponsors have headed for the exit, costing Woods millions. Here at the WGC World Match Play Championship the sponsors, Accenture, were among the first to drop him. Ironic. Or is it?
Rory McIlroy said, only half in jest, that this may, in fact, be pertinent in the timing of Woods' coming out of hiding. "I suppose he wanted to get something back at the sponsors," said the young Ulsterman. Regardless, Accenture will have every right to be furious with the PGA Tour for sanctioning a conference which will drain a top-flight event of so much publicity. However, the overwhelming reaction in the Arizona desert was one of relief. "It's just gone on for so long," added McIlroy. "I'm sick of hearing about it and I'm looking forward to when he's coming back on the golf course."
So when and where will that be? Well, the PGA Tour claimed last night to be as much in the dark as anyone. "We were asked to help provide a place for him to do this," said the commissioner, Tim Finchem. "I'll be as interested as everybody else what he says. I'm pleased he's talking again and he will be back playing after he's finished rehab."