Silence nothing new for Tiger Woods
The PR specialists who are making themselves available for expert opinion (and their own publicity) have mostly concluded that Woods is making a big mistake by hiding behind his silence over the car crash outside his home last week.
Not many would dispute that.
Keeping quiet only fueled speculation and innuendo that is not likely to end with the Florida Highway Patrol announcement Tuesday that Woods will be cited for reckless driving and fined $164, and its investigation is over.
Even so, no one should be surprised by how Woods and his management team are proceeding.
He has been handling things his own way since he turned pro.
Woods does not get into many media confrontations. When he does, the response is short and often distributed on paper.
After the famous GQ article in 1997, in which Woods was quoted as telling jokes with racial overtones in the back seat of a car, he issued a statement through IMG in which he confessed to the jokes. “It’s no secret that I’m 21 years old and that I’m naive about the motives of certain ambitious writers,” it said.
He was playing at Bay Hill when the article came out. The day after his statement, upon finishing his round, Woods rushed by a group of reporters and ducked inside a tent to sign autographs.
That was the first – and last – time Woods could be found in an autograph tent.
At his next news conference, a week later at The Players Championship, Woods repeated the line about being naive. When someone started to ask about the magazine article, Woods cut him off.
“I have already answered enough on that GQ article,” he said.
His first big gaffe happened right after he turned pro in 1996, when he was playing on sponsor exemptions to get his PGA Tour card. Once he had the money he needed in four tournaments, Woods abruptly withdrew from the Buick Challenge, citing exhaustion. The problem was he also bailed on an invitation-only dinner in his honor to receive the Fred Haskins Award for being the NCAA Player of the Year.
Woods offered only a statement – no mention of the dinner – and was roasted by players and tournament officials.
He finally responded with a guest column for a golf magazine in which he recognized his mistake.
“Even though I know I did the right thing in getting away, I should have stayed long enough to attend the dinner and then gone home,” he wrote. “But hindsight is 20-20.”
Those incidents were quickly forgotten after Woods began an astonishing run into the record books with his watershed victory in the 1997 Masters. But then came another incident, perhaps the most publicized – until now.
A week after his Masters victory, Fuzzy Zoeller was quoted on CNN as suggesting Woods not have fried chicken on the Champions Dinner menu the next year. “Or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve,” Zoeller said.
Zoeller apologized immediately. It took three days for Woods to accept the apology – through a statement. By then, Zoeller had lost his endorsement with KMart, and the popular two-time major champion was never the same. During the longest three days of Zoeller’s life, Woods was said to be unavailable while meeting with Nike executives in Oregon.
More issues followed. More guarded responses.
The all-male membership at Augusta National? Woods managed to take both sides of the delicate issue, saying the club should have a female member while acknowledging the rights of a private club to set its own rules. It got so intense that The New York Times wrote an editorial urging Woods to boycott the Masters.
Through it all, he never got off script.
In a 2000 dispute with the PGA Tour over ownership of his marketing rights, Woods used a golf magazine to get across his complaints. When a reporter caught up with Woods in Spain and asked if he would ever leave the Tour, Woods delivered another calculated answer without saying a word. He smiled and he shrugged. And then he walked away.
He met with PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem two months later, and they have been mostly allies ever since.
Even without time to prepare an answer (or statement), Woods has dismissed criticism of other issues – from throwing clubs to cursing to not helping tournaments by announcing earlier his intentions to play – with a short answer.
A year ago, his caddie was quoted by a New Zealand newspaper making disparaging remarks about Phil Mickelson. The night before his news conference at the Chevron World Challenge, Woods put out a statement saying he was disappointed in caddie Steve Williams, and that he had dealt with the matter and it was closed.
He took two questions the next day, no more. The issue never really came up again.
Woods so far has issued one statement on his Web site about the car crash – two days after the patrol first reported the accident. He said it was his fault, that he’s not perfect. He praised his wife for acting “courageously.” And he said it would remain a private matter.
Woods likely will go another two months before facing the media. Even if the story has lost its steam, questions are sure to come up.
If history is any indication, Woods still won’t answer them.
Suspended Hensby offers details on missed drug test
One day after receiving a one-year suspension from the PGA Tour for failing to provide a sample for a drug test, Mark Hensby offered details on the events that led to his missed test in October.
Hensby, 46, released a statement explaining that the test in question came after the opening round of the Sanderson Farms Championship, where the Aussie opened with a 78. Frustrated about his play, Hensby said he was prepared to give a blood sample but was then informed that the test would be urine, not blood.
"I had just urinated on the eighth hole, my 17th hole that day, and knew that I was probably unable to complete the urine test for at least a couple more hours," Hensby said. "I told this gentleman that I would complete the test in the morning prior to my early morning tee time. Another gentleman nearby told me that 'they have no authority to require me to stay.' Thus, I left."
Hensby explained that he subsequently received multiple calls and texts from PGA Tour officials inquiring as to why he left without providing a sample and requesting that he return to the course.
"I showed poor judgment in not responding," said Hensby, who was subsequently disqualified from the tournament.
Hensby won the 2004 John Deere Classic, but he has missed six cuts in seven PGA Tour starts over the last two years. He will not be eligible to return to the Tour until Oct. 26, 2018.
"Again, I made a terrible decision to not stay around that evening to take the urine test," Hensby said. "Obviously in hindsight I should have been more patient, more rational and taken the test. Call me stupid, but don't call me a cheater. I love the game. I love the integrity that it represents, and I would never compromise the values and qualities that the game deserves."
Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage
Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.
Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.
Swipe to see what’s up in my world. It’s long-winded.... short version, we lost the baby. Had to share this since we had shared the news already. I know you’re all so supportive and kind. I just couldn’t face it before. Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming. #ihavealotoffeelings #andphotostocatchupon
“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”
The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.
“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia
This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.
The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.
Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.
The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.
A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.
And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.
Green jacket tour
Man of the people
Ace at 17th at Sawgrass
Departure from TaylorMade
Squashed beef with Paddy
Victory at Valderrama
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates:
No. 4: Dec. 13
No. 3: Dec. 14
No. 2: Dec. 15
No. 1: Dec. 18