By Frank James
Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his first public appearance Friday before the media and the world in what amounts to an early step in salvaging what had been a legendary golf career in which he achieved nearly unparalleled star power.
But he's already tripped up.
First, Woods and his handlers decided the star will only make a statement and take no questions from the hand-picked media allowed in the room at the PGA Tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra, Fla.
It demonstrates that the golfer and his advisers are seeking to control a story that spun out of their hand weeks ago. Actually, Woods' career went haywire long before the November car crash that triggered the revelations that he had numerous affairs.
When he decided to gamble with his billion-dollar reputation by having numerous trysts with many different women, he sent matters careering out of control.
But the point is this is now a story he can only help steer. To not allow journalists to ask questions just shows he and his people don't quite get it yet.
Why will the media members be in the room then if they can't ask questions? At this rate, they're only props. Woods could have just as easily read his remarks into a camera and live-streamed them on his blog; that would have had the same effect.
The media organizations should have in unison rejected Woods' ground rules. The collective stance should have been "no questions, no media."
To the Golf Writers Associations credit, they went on record criticizing Woods media appearance. As the Washington Post reported:
Meanwhile, the Golf Writers Association of America's board of directors voted overwhelming not to participate as pool reporters Friday when Woods issues his first public statement in nearly three months.
"I cannot stress how strongly our board felt that this should be open to all media and also for the opportunity to question Woods," said Vartan Kupelian, president of the 950-member group. "The position, simply put, is all or none. This is a major story of international scope. To limit the ability of journalists to attend, listen, see and question Woods goes against the grain of everything we believe."
Woods arguably would have helped himself if he had taken insolent, impertinent questions from reporters in the room. Getting beat up by reporters would have been an uncomfortable experience for a man who has largely been able to live a cosseted life of media adoration.
But it would have looked like penance to many people, as though he was publicly wearing the hair shirt. It might have even elicited some sympathy for him since the media are probably, as a group, even more despised by the public, than Woods is.
Meanwhile, some of Woods' fellow elite golfers aren't happy with his decision that will possibly upstage the Accenture Match Play Championship in Marana, Ariz.
Ernie Els, for one, knocked Woods timing. From the
Ft. Myers News Press:
"It's selfish," Els said. "You can write that. I feel sorry for the sponsor. Mondays are a good day to make statements, not Friday. This takes a lot away from the golf tournament."
Because it's an event with great public interest, we'll be covering and live-blogging Woods' statement. But we're already unimpressed and it hasn't even started yet.