By REX HOGGARD
At 10 a.m. on Monday Tiger Woods is scheduled to take to the first tee at Augusta National for a practice round. At 2 p.m. he is scheduled to talk to the media. If form holds, expect to see many more answers coming from the former, rather than the latter.
For the first time since Woods caromed his way down an Isleworth byway in November, the world No. 1 will take to a microphone to field questions from the national media at large. But be forewarned, anyone looking for closure to the most bizarre season golf has ever known should get used to disappointment.
That’s not to say Monday’s unprecedented meet-and-greet doesn’t present a wealth of opportunity for Woods.
• The gathering will give Woods a chance to explain what happened the night his SUV plowed through a collection of immovable obstructions beyond his claim in a March 21 interview with Golf Channel that, “it’s all in the police report.” There was a reason the Florida Highway Patrol wanted a look at Woods’ medical records and, in fairness to every professional athlete who has run afoul the law of the land, he could put to rest a great many questions.
• Woods will also be afforded a chance to clarify his relationship with Canadian Dr. Anthony Galea, who is under investigation for his use of human growth hormone and who has been linked to many high-profile athletes including Alex Rodriguez. According to reports, Galea helped Woods recover from knee surgery using a process called blood spinning. Blood spinning is a legal procedure under the PGA Tour’s performance-enhancing drug policy. But it’s also a procedure that could have been administered by any number of qualified doctors. Why choose a doctor who is not licensed to practice medicine in Florida and who has the cloud of HGH hanging over his head?
• But, perhaps most pressing, the 14-time major champion will have a chance to explain why we should trust him again. During his February media event at TPC Sawgrass Woods said his actions will ultimately decide how he has chosen to live his life. Within the confines of the Augusta National press building he could go a long way to showing he’s on a new path with some honest and from-the-heart answers.
Woods’ press conference will not be about a pound of flesh. Truth be told he owes the media nothing. He can choose not to elaborate any further than he already has, put a peg in the ground on Thursday and go about putting this episode behind him doing what he does best – winning.
He may stick to his talking points, put his head down and simply refuse to submit to the impending media maelstrom. But this isn’t about what the press wants. This is about what golf deserves. And the game deserves some answers.
By RANDALL MELL
Will Tiger Woods invite us along on his journey?
It’s not something most of us are expecting when he meets the media Monday at Augusta National, but it would change the nature of his march toward history.
Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 professional major championship titles is one of sports’ great treasures. Nicklaus wasn’t just a winner. He was a gentleman sportsman who won as much respect in all his runner-up finishes in majors (19) as he did in his victories.
Woods’ march to break Nicklaus’ mark won’t be a solitary journey. Everyone who loves the game will follow. For a lot of them, it’s now a journey to dread because they feel betrayed. For them, this is looking like it will be a repeat of Barry Bonds’ miserable march to break Hank Aaron’s record.
But there are millions of folks who will root for Woods’ redemption, who want to encourage a man’s sincere desire to be something better.
Sincere is the key word. Truth that hurts will be the measure of that sincerity in his Monday news conference at the Masters.
Woods can show us the Six-Minute Man was just a start.
There were possibilities in the tone of that six-minute interview with Golf Channel and a similar allotment with ESPN two weeks ago, the possibility that he could surprise us all in undergoing a transformation beyond the way he views marriage. There was the possibility he’s interested in changing the nature of his relationship with the world.
But there was a giant dose of skepticism that came in those six minutes. It was in the sense that his relationship with the world is still built on his entitled and controlling terms. There was more than a sense of it in his claiming that “it’s all in the police report” when asked what happened in the early morning hours of Nov. 27 and in his claiming that nobody in his inner circle knew of his infidelities when published reports show otherwise.
For Woods to make this golf journey something his betrayed following won’t dread, he needs to offer truth that hurts him. Telling us what happened that night in Isleworth is a start because the events didn’t just change his life, they turned the entire golf world upside down. A general accounting matters in setting the record straight before moving forward.
Detailing why he would risk damaging the integrity of his sport in the treatment of his knee by hiring a doctor who has a history of using and prescribing banned HGH substances matters in moving forward.
Woods risks making so many of the folks who will follow his golf journey feel like the women he used if he doesn’t reach out with truth that hurts him. The pain of that truth is more than penance. It’s a sincere invitation to join him on his journey.