Tour getting ready for Tiger show

By Doug FergusonFebruary 18, 2010, 10:44 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – First came photos of Tiger Woods jogging. Far more compelling will be the sound of his voice.

Woods has not been heard in the 78 days since a magazine released a voicemail that he allegedly left one of the women to whom he has been romantically linked, pleading with her to remove his number from her cell phone.

That changes at 11 a.m. EST Friday when Woods makes his first public appearance since crashing his car into a tree outside his Florida home Nov. 27, sparking sordid revelations of infidelity.

The big question is what will he say? The topic was intriguing Americans – Woods was a trendy subject on Twitter a full day before his appearance.

Almost as intriguing is which “friends, colleagues and close associates” will be in the Sunset Room on the second floor of the Mediterranean-style clubhouse at the TPC Sawgrass.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, who made the clubhouse available and is offering logistical help, has said he would attend, and as many as four other members of his executive staff will be in the room.

A British bookmaker has set odds at 4-to-7 that Woods wife, Elin, will be with him. William Hill didn’t stop there, however. It offers 8-to-1 odds that Woods will announce he is getting a divorce, 12-to-1 odds that his wife is pregnant and 100-to-1 odds that he is retiring.

“While Tiger feels that what happened is fundamentally a matter between he and his wife, he also recognizes that he has hurt and let down a lot of other people who were close to him,” his agent, Mark Steinberg, said in an e-mail Wednesday. “He also let down his fans. He wants to begin the process of making amends and that’s what he’s going to discuss.”

Instead of going on “Oprah” or another national television show to break the ice, Woods essentially will be speaking to the lone camera allowed in the room. It will be televised live via satellite.

Three networks – ABC, CBS and NBC – will carry the statement live. ESPN will have it live on all its platforms, including Internet streaming, radio and mobile. The Golf Channel will start coverage at 10:30 a.m.—call it a 30-minute pregame show.

Steinberg invited three reporters from wire services – The Associated Press, Reuters and Bloomberg – and he turned to the Golf Writers Association of America to come up with a pool of three reporters.

GWAA president Vartan Kupelian, who is retired from The Detroit News and now contributes to pgatour.com, asked the group’s officers. That means Kupelian is going, along with second vice president Bob Harig of espn.com. Kupelian said the first vice president, Mark Soltau, declined. Along with working for Golf Digest, Soltau is the editor of tigerwoods.com.

Kupelian said he still does not have a third GWAA member, and he is lobbying Woods’ camp for a larger pool. A large faction of the GWAA board wants to boycott the appearance because of Steinberg’s rules – no questions are allowed.

“This is not a press conference,” Steinberg said Wednesday, the same day photos of Woods jogging in Florida were released.

Woods has always been about control, even in better times. He refused to go into the media center before a PGA Tour event if he was not the defending champion. If he agreed to a 10-minute interview to pitch a product he endorses, it was common for a company employee to be in the room making sure it didn’t go one second beyond that.

But having not heard from Woods – except for three statements on his Web site – in three months, this event has taken on a life of its own.

Conversation raged online, as many took glee in speculating on what Woods will say Friday.

The golfer was the hottest topic on Google Trends. On Twitter, Tiger Woods was a dominant topic.

One of the most popular threads were tweets with the tag “tigershouldsay.” Suggestions were predominantly sarcastic, such as: “At least I didn’t use steroids.”

Live events during work hours on weekdays have traditionally meant for robust traffic on the Web, since many viewers will be at work in front of computers, rather than home in front of TVs.

The PGA Tour will have two tournaments in progress Friday, including the third round of the Accenture Match Play Championship, the first title sponsor to drop Woods during this sex scandal. Some players did not think it was a coincidence.

Most of them, however, will be just like everyone else – curious what Woods has to say, and how he says it.

“It has to be held at some stage,” Padraig Harrington said. “The sooner he makes a statement, the better. And the sooner he’s back to playing golf – he’s pretty good at playing golf – the better.”

AP Television Writer Frazier Moore and AP Entertainment Writer Jake Coyle contributed to this report.

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Euro experience at Le Golf National 'a help to us'

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 8:55 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The European team has plenty of experience at Ryder Cup venue Le Golf National, which has been the longtime host of the French Open.

The question this week is whether it’ll matter.

The only American player to compete in this year’s French Open was Justin Thomas. Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau and Bubba Watson all got a look at Le Golf National before The Open.

Not surprisingly, the European team has a proven track record here – all 12 players have seen the course at some point. Alex Noren won in July. Tommy Fleetwood is a past champion, too. So is European vice captain Graeme McDowell. Francesco Molinari and assistant Lee Westwood also have runners-up here.

“I definitely think it’s a help to us, for sure,” Ian Poulter said. “It’s probably the most-played venue as a Ryder Cup venue for all of the European players that have played. So we definitely have a feel of how this golf course has played in very different weather conditions. I definitely think we have an understanding of how this golf course can play.”

Of course, this setup is no different than what players typically experience as they prepare for a major championship. They’ll play 18 holes each of the next two days, then maybe nine holes on Thursday, as they get a feel for the layout.  

“When it’s the best players in the world, and we play on golf courses week-in and week-out where we have to learn a new golf course, it’s difficult to say how much of an advantage it will be,” Fleetwood said. “It can only be a good thing, or it can’t do any harm that we know the course better or that we’ve played it more times.

“Knowledge can only be a good thing. Maybe it’s a little advantage, but it’s the best players in the world that are out here, so it’s not something to look at too much.”

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First-tee grandstand 'biggest you'll ever see'

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 8:27 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The first-tee nerves could be even more intense this week at the Ryder Cup.

If only because of the atmosphere.

The grandstand surrounding the first hole at Le Golf National is unlike anything that’s ever been seen at this event – a 6,500-seat behemoth that dwarfs the previous arenas.

“It’s the biggest grandstand you’ll ever see at a golf tournament,” Tommy Fleetwood said.

“It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t had to hit that tee shot before,” Ian Poulter said. “When I think back (to my first Ryder Cup) in 2004, the stand is nothing like what we have today. So it really is going to be quite a special moment Friday, and it’s going to be very interesting to see.”

Poulter said it’ll be his job to prepare, as best he can, the team’s rookies for what they’ll experience when the first ball goes in the air Friday morning.

“The No. 1 thing I’ve pictured since the Ryder Cup became a goal is that first tee shot,” Fleetwood said. “But nothing prepares you for the real thing. The grandstand is pretty big – there’s no denying that.

“It’s something that everybody wants in their career, so as nerve-wracking as it is, and whatever those feelings are, everybody wants that in their life. So you just have to take it on and let it all happen.”  

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Impressionist Moore creates 'hilarious' video for Euros

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 25, 2018, 7:54 am

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – The European Ryder Cup team began its week by laughing at itself.

Noted impressionist Conor Moore made a 10-minute clip in which he took turns poking fun at the 12 team members in a press-conference setting.

The video has not, and probably will not, be made public.

“It was extremely funny, I have to say,” Ian Poulter said. “Clips like that, they can help the team get together. Although we’re taking the mickey out of one another, it’s quite a good way to start the week off.”

The best impression, apparently, was of reigning Open champion Francesco Molinari.

“I think Fran’s has made me giggle for about 10 hours now," Tommy Fleetwood said. 

"Just how deadpan he was – just trying to make how excited he was with his deadpan tone. It was perfect, really. It was absolutely spot-on."

Even the typically stoic Molinari found the video hilarious.

“I’m actually thinking of it all the time now answering questions, trying to smile a bit more,” he said, laughing.

So is this the new, more lively version of Molinari?

“Can’t you tell the difference?” he said dryly.

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Woods' final round is highest-rated FEC telecast ever

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 24, 2018, 9:05 pm

We've heard it a million times: Tiger Woods doesn't just move the needle, he IS the needle.

Here's more proof.

NBC Sports Group's final-round coverage of Woods claiming his 80th career victory in the Tour Championship earned a 5.21 overnight rating, making it the highest-rated telecast in the history of the FedExCup Playoffs and the highest-rated PGA Tour telecast in 2018 (excluding majors).

The rating was up 206 percent over 2017's Tour Championship.


Final FedExCup standings

Full-field scores from the Tour Championship

Tour Championship: Articles, photos and videos


Coverage peaked from 5:30-6PM ET (7.19) as Woods finished his round and as Justin Rose was being crowned the FedExCup champion. That number trailed only the 2018 peaks for the Masters (11.03) and PGA Championship (8.28). The extended coverage window (1:30-6:15 PM ET) posted a 4.35 overnight rating, which is the highest-rated Tour Championship telecast on record.

Sunday’s final round also saw 18.4 million minutes streamed across NBC Sports Digital platforms (up 561 percent year-over-year), and becomes the most-streamed NBC Sports Sunday round (excluding majors) on record.