Geoff Ogilvy says Tiger Woods should face the media before he returns to tournament golf out of respect for his fellow players, “to diffuse the circus” that would accompany his return to the PGA Tour. Is Ogilvy right?
By REX HOGGARD
Even before Geoff Ogilvy avoided the corporate tents down the left side of Winged Foot’s 18th fairway to join the U.S. Open club he was one of the game’s best interviews because he was honest and thoughtful, and the Australian’s comments this week regarding Tiger Woods’ potential return to the Tour are proof of that DNA even if you don’t agree entirely with the message.
The Tour’s other Ogilvie (Joe) seemed to address this a few years back when he suggested that every player should cut Woods a check each year considering what the world No. 1 has brought to the game. Tour purses were $70.7 million in 1996 when Woods joined the fun. This year the independent contractors are playing for $275.8 million.
If the rank-and-file have to deal with some paparazzi on the way to the bank, so be it. Ditto for tournaments that have universally made mission statement No. 1 getting Tiger on a tee sheet.
The core of Ogilvy’s point, however, is valid. Look no further than Mark McGwire’s well-scripted mea culpa if one needs to be sure. The shamed slugger, with the help of former White House spin master Ari Fleischer, lifted the veil off his decade’s old lie with a perfectly-executed blitz that included a friendly initial assault (MLB Network interview) followed by a series of interviews aimed at easing the blow when he arrives at spring training.
Woods could help the process with a similar preemptive plan, but the questions will come regardless of where and when the world No. 1 finally steps to a microphone. Whether the mea culpa comes at Doral or the Masters, the circus will follow. Fittingly, however, the one thing that will likely quiet the media hordes is the one thing Woods does best – winning.
By RANDALL MELL
Yes, Ogilvy is right, but for the wrong reasons. Woods should face the media if he cares about the healing it will help bring to a public that feels invested in him. He should do it out of respect for golf fans who feel defrauded and betrayed. Woods shouldn’t do it to spare fellow pros the inconvenience a media circus would bring to a PGA Tour event. That’s secondary. Woods helped make so many of his colleagues rich. There’s a larger purpose served in Woods doing public penance before he returns to tournament golf.
As much ill will as Woods has created, there are a lot of folks who will root for his redemption. Meeting with the media helps set that transition in motion. It will serve as a powerful act of contrition if it’s sincerely delivered. There’s a show of respect for the game doing it away from the site of his return to golf.
Woods may not believe he owes us anything. Maybe he doesn’t. The bottom line, though, is that his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ major championship record will be a colder journey if he doesn’t invite us along in some meaningful way. The celebration of something spectacular won’t feel as good. Woods can change that by reaching out before he resumes his journey.