Tiger back to face the media — but is it too soon?
The eyes of the golfing world will be firmly fixed on Augusta National at 1400 local (1900 GMT) on Monday when four-times champion Tiger Woods faces the media ahead of his highly anticipated return to competition at this week’s U.S. Masters.
It will be the first appearance at a news conference by the disgraced American world number one since his private life unravelled at the end of last year amid revelations he had a string of extra-marital affairs.
Woods made a carefully managed public appearance with family and friends at the PGA Tour headquarters on Feb. 19, saying he was sorry for cheating on his Swedish wife, Elin Nordegren, with whom he has two small children, and that he was undergoing therapy.
He finally took questions from the media in two five-minute interviews with the Golf Channel and ESPN last month, although he has not yet been exposed to the scatter-gun approach of a wide-ranging news conference.
That will all change on Monday but Woods, who has always enjoyed a fair measure of control over his interviews, may not feel inclined to answer every question lobbed at him in the genteel surrounds of Augusta National.
At the very least, the golfing media will at last have their first opportunity to put the 14-times major winner on the spot since his startling fall from grace nearly five months ago.
Previously viewed as squeaky clean, Woods became engulfed in a media frenzy following a bizarre early-morning car crash outside his Florida home on Nov. 27.
The minor accident led to a parade of women alleging publicly they had had affairs with the golfer, and his life will never be the same again.
Many feel Woods has returned to competition too soon and should have placed a higher priority on trying to save his marriage by keeping professional golf off the agenda for at least the first half of the year.
Various tabloids reports suggest that Elin feels let down in this regard but this, of course, is all speculative.
What do you think? Has Woods returned to competition too soon? Or does the game of golf need him back as soon as possible?
PHOTO: Steve Williams, caddie of Tiger Woods, rides in a golf cart after Woods played a practice round in preparation for the 2010 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia April 4, 2010. Woods’ golf bag is minus the traditional corporate logo after AT&T withdrew their sponsorship of Woods in December 2009. REUTERS/Hans Deryk