If you expect to see Tiger Woods turn up on Larry King or Oprah’s couch or even say much more about --well, you know – at the Masters, don’t count on it.
Judging from comments in Sports Illustrated this week from his
newly-hired PR crisis management advisor Ari Fleischer, former press secretary
for President George W. Bush, Tiger won’t be spilling his guts for a
"public cleansing" any time soon, maybe ever.
"Obviously what Tiger did was horrendous in his
personal life," Fleischer told Jon Wertheim for an item on Scorecard.
"But he's under no obligation to tell anyone the details about it. I
believe he should draw a line in the sand between his golf and private matters.
Being in public life doesn't mean you have to succumb to the overwhelming
curiosity factor that permeates everything in our society."
Can’t wait to see how this all
plays out at the Masters.
So it’s not just me who
thinks this talk of Tiger making his
big return at the Masters is crazy.
Nice guy Steve Stricker,
who is a friend of Tiger’s, says as
much here.And now comes a column
echoing that sentiment from Scott Michaux, straight out of the hometown Augusta Chronicle.
Michaux’s angle is that Tiger’s Return
would drown out and all other stories at the Masters.He’s right,
it would, and that is absolutely the last thing Augusta National Golf Club wants.
The Masters is unlike any other tournament on the circuit.It’s like going to visit at your creepy
old great aunt’s house, where everything is pretty and nice and has a place but
where you’re afraid to sit on the furniture or make too much noise or track mud
on the carpet.You’re glad when the
visit is over, but not nearly as glad as your creepy old great aunt.
The thing is, Tiger knows this.So does his agent, Mark
knows it better than Tiger’s chief
PR guy, Glenn
Greenspan, former longtime PR guy for Augusta National and the Masters,
until he hired was hired away by Tiger’s
company about two years ago.
Knowing full well that Augusta National does not want Tiger’s PR fiasco dumped in the middle
of their annual rite of spring, I’ve got to believe that there will be some
kind of "media opportunity" before the Masters.
Given the late date, we’re
down to the Tavistock Cup, the Arnold
Palmer Invitationalor maybe
some kind of sudden appearance on Oprah’s
couch.But I’m telling you, if
he Tiger rolls down Magnolia Lane without having diffused
the media heat a little, he will be the only four-time winner in the history of
the Masters who is about as welcome
as four days of rain.
If the rumors are correct,
if Tiger Woods truly plans to make
his grand reappearance at the Masters,
we could be in for quite a drama.
If you missed it yesterday, Camp Tiger confirmed they had hired
former Bush 43 mouthpiece Ari Fleischer, now a PR crisis
management consultant, to advise him on buffing up his image and smoothing his
reentry into golf.
Frankly, I find talk of Tiger returning at Masters a little surprising.Sure, it’s the first major of the year, and CBS would kill for the incredible ratings bump.But the kind of media-frenzy spectacle
that Tiger is going to create
wherever he returns is the last thing the stodgy old Augusta National Golf Club wants – not at their precious
tournament. They prefer blooming
azaleas and that soft tinkling piano music.
Never mind the tabloid media
– National Enquirer, TMZ,
Entertainment Tonight -- because Augusta
National would never allow a single one of them set foot inside the tall
hedges of holy golfing ground.But
Tiger and Augusta National would have their hands full just handling the
mainstream media and golfing press.
The media landscape for Tiger has changed.If he thinks he can hold a press
conference-- a real press conference – and refuse
to take questions on, you know, sensitive topics, he would quickly have a media
mutiny on his hands.The Golf Writers Association of America boycotted
his recent televised apology for just that reason, and I have no doubt many of writers
would storm out at the first hint of an overly-controlled press conference.
To say nothing of the fact
that Augusta National wants no part
of that, either.Augusta National has a good
relationship with the media, which it doesn’t want to destroy, not even for Tiger.And given the average age of club members (old) and their
world view (conservative), it’s not unfair to assume they’d rather see Tiger to take his lumps somewhere else.
From what I understand, since Tiger doesnít have to commit by Friday of the week before as he would in a PGAT event, he could just show up and play in The Masters. Of course, he or his agent/spokesperson could make an announcement before then. The Masters is basically a controlled environment,isnít it?
The Tavistock Cup is also a controlled environment-limited gallery, limited press. He just might play there as a warm up.
It’s official as far as I’m
Daly is a complete jackass.
He earned that distinction
as of late Tuesday night, when he became so annoyed that the Florida
Times-Union newspaper in Jacksonville revealed
the ugly details of the PGA Tour’s 456-page dossier on Daly.
What did the dossier
show?Over the course of his
wild-ride career Daly has been suspended five times, placed on probation six times, ordered to rehab seven
times, cited for "unprofessional conduct" 11 times, cited for "not giving his best effort" in
times and fined nearly $100,000.
response was to call the reporter who wrote the story, Garry Smits, a "jerk" on Twitter.He also gave out the reporter’s cell
phone number and urged his fans to "CALL & FLOOD his line & let’s tell
him how WE feel."
In a second tweet, Daly wrote,
"To me, this isn’t journalism, it’s paparazzi-like gossip."
By Wednesday afternoon about
100 of Daly’s
fans had taken the bait and called Smits’ phone."His fans are very unhappy," Smits told the AP.
I happen to know Smits
pretty well, and I would not describe him a jerk at all.He will talk your ear off, but he is
not a jerk.What he is, is one of
the hardest-working and most prolific golf writers around.Every year, when The Players Championship comes to the
Jacksonville area, Smits almost single-handedly turns out a special section every day.
Knowing a little something
about how the newspaper business works, I also doubt that Smits wrote the about Daly out of
spite; my guess is he wrote it because his editors told him to. That, and the
fact that the dossier contains so many juicy details that it is indeed
PGA Tour dossiers are normally kept quite secret; in fact,
is the only major pro sports league that doesn’t reveal when a player has been
fined or suspended.The only way
the dossier fell into Smits is because Daly is had sued the paper for libel over a column written by a
long-gone columnist. The dossier was part of the public court record.
On Wednesday, the Golf Writers
Association of America formerly asked PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem to suspend Daly for
his attack on Smits.No word yet what, if action, Finchem
Fact is, Daly who has had had a Tour card
since 2006,surviving on sponsor’s
Daly, the once-likeable, mullet-wearing, redneck-to-riches story, can’t seem
to stop himself from writing more bad stanzas to his sad country song.
There was a time three or
four crack-ups ago when it was fun and easy to be a fan of John Daly.
The man had more demons than
a haunted house, but boy, did he have talent. Daly was the priceless original of the new-generation of
long-bombers, wrapping his driver three-quarters of the way around his
then-bloated body to clobber tee shots 340 yards shots.More remarkably, when it came to
chipping and putting, this enormous heap of a man had perhaps the softest hands
in the game.
Oh, the talent he had, the
gift, the potential.
But somewhere along the line
– was it the third trip to rehab, the on-course meltdowns, the fights in
the fast food parking lot? – rooting for Big John to get his act together became
an exercise in futility and frustration.I finally gave up on him.A
lot of people gave up on him, including the PGA
So it was with a wary eye
that I previewed the latest Golf Channel reality show, Being
John Daly, which premiers tonight at 9 p.m.Only the hardest core Daly fans will make it through this 30-minute
downer, which is scheduled to continue to document his 2010 comeback, such as
it is, in subsequent episodes in the same timeslot.
"He is on a mission, crusade,
to regain control of a life out of control," intones the narrator.
How about Mission
Produced by the Golf Channel,
Being John Dalyis a laudable effort by the network to
give us more of the kind of original programming we won’t get anywhere
else.And they make no attempt to
sugar-coat the reality that is Daly.
Yes, you get the present-day
slimmed-down, loud-pants-wearing Daly, but you also get plenty of his train
wreck years.(Remember the
particularly depressing sight of him being escorted off a golf course after
some kind of mid-round breakdown, shivering, wrapped up in a jacket that looked
more like a straight-jacket?
Who knows how long Being John Daly
will actually last.After he
embarrassed himself at the Farmers Insurance
Open in late January, shooting 79-71 to miss the cut by a mile, he told
the producers of the new show he was bagging it, quitting golf.What was the point?
Daly thought better of it, no doubt when he remembered his own personal Ex-wives Club,
and quickly returned to golf.He
missed the cut at Pebble Beach, where it’s hard to know whether he was competing as a
professional golfer or as freak-show celebrity. Daly made his first cut (T-67, $7,308) of the year at the Mayakoba Golf Championship,
when the game biggest stars were at the Accenture Match Play Championship.
Watching Being John Daly
is like watching a fight the ref ought to stop.
35 years in the news business, I have been blown off, disrespected, misled and flat-out
lied to by small-town public officials, cops, career politicians, movie stars,
best-selling authors, coaches and athletes from a variety sports and bosses in
my own newsrooms.
is, I like to think I have to bow to no man when it comes to being a cynic.
after reading and listening to some of the I-ain't-buying-it backlash directed at Tiger Woods'
public apology this past Friday, cynically speaking, I feel like a rube, a
naive babe in the woods.
are all over the internet. Bill
Simmons at ESPN.com, Sally
Jenkins in the Washington Post, Stephen
A. Smithin the Philadelphia Inquirer, John
Hopkinsin the Timesof London, just to name a few.There are plenty more where they from, each one meaner and
more skeptical than the other.
don’t get it.Me, I watched Tiger for
those 13½ minutes and could not stop thinking about how shamed,
humiliated and broken he appeared.Gone was the confident, cocky golfer who was always so full of himself
in the hundreds of press conferences and interviews of his I sat through. I saw
no hint of defiance in his eyes.They appeared dull and lifeless, his strength and spirit sapped.
such a proud man, I could not imagine the humiliation of having to stand before
you, me, his mom and the world and admit, essentially, that he was a no good,
lyin’ fraud – anything but the image of invulnerable, impenetrable
perfection he projected for so long.
agree totally with the prevailing observation that he seemed nervous, stilted,
over-prepared and over-rehearsed, right down to the well-timed pauses and
glances into the camera for dramatic effort.
he coached?You bet.Was he wooden and awkward?Yes, painfully so.
how anyone can say that his confession was disingenuous or not from the heart
– whatever is left of Tiger’s heart – is beyond me.How do they know that?What could they see that I couldn’t see?
don’t mean to be soft on Tiger.Because of his
peerless abilities and accomplishments on the golf course, he has been allowed
to behave like an entitled, arrogant ass for too long. This mess is entirely of
his own making, and he deserves every bit of the misery he has caused himself.
that matter, add me to the list of folks who think he and his people have
bungled this disaster from the beginning, trying to control this like he has
controlled everything else.He
only compounded his problems by waiting so long to show his face and, once he
finally did, he could have done without the gratuitous reminders of the good
work his foundation does or his little lecture to the media.
problem is not the media in general, by the way, it’s the tabloids and
celebrity websites, who are joyously feasting on Tiger like he was some hapless
wildebeest they chased down on the African plain.How a man who has been in the public eye and dealt with the
media for so long can be so oblivious to their needs, wants and relentless
determination is inconceivable.
orchestrated as it was, was boycotted by the Golf Writers Association of America, of
which I am a long-time member.Our
beef was that the three hand-picked reporters who were invited by Tiger’s
people would not be allowed to ask questions, thereby reducing them to mere
props in his little one-act play.
is, before he was finished, Tiger said most of the things I thought he needed to say, and he
answered most of the questions I had. I don’t think he owes us the seamier
details and, frankly, I don’t want to hear them.
I believe Tiger
did himself some good in the PR department with his statement, I don’t
think for a moment he has put sorry chapter behind him.Not a chance.When he returns to golf -- whenever and wherever that turns
out to be – the reporters and the questions will be waiting.The man who for so long dictated
the terms of interviews will find a very changed media landscape.
Tiger is still the best
golfer in the world, but we no longer have any illusions about who he is as a
man.For now, at least, when he
says he is sorry, I am willing to take him at his word.Like his wife says, the real proof will
be in the way Tiger
lives the rest of his life.
I, too, thought I was about as cynical as anyone could get. And yet there I was buying into Tigerís apology. Actually, compared to the usual Mark McGuire-esque apologies to which we have become accustomed, I thought Tigerís was as real and raw as one could get. But when I read the writers you mentioned and others, I felt like a chump, a naif, a rube. Now, though, I hear heís hitting balls and getting ready for the Tavistock Cup and The Masters. If that happens, I guess, that anyone who bought Tigerís apology really is a chump, a naif, and a rube.