Today we hear Tiger's tale

Nearly three months since Tiger Woods' massive fall from grace, and not much seems to have changed.


Woods will make his first spoken statements today about the reported infidelities that have rocked his marriage, disappointed his fans, sent some of his sponsors fleeing and forced him to take an indefinite leave of absence from the game he's dominated for the past 13 years.

In a limited, no-questions-asked news conference near the PGA Tour's headquarters at the TPC Sawgrass, Woods is expected to talk about his past and future and apologize for his actions that have derailed his public approval rating like no other person in history.

We don't know the particulars of what kind of timetable he might announce for his return to golf or whether he'll compete in the Masters Tournament in April.

What we do know is that in spite of his international embarrassment, Woods and his handlers remain the exact same control freaks and manipulators they were before he was shamed and that his underlying vindictive streak has survived the tabloid onslaught intact.

Woods will only speak in front of a select group of friends and invited guests - including just six representatives from the media who are not allowed to ask any questions. Talk about controlling the conversation. What conversation? It's a monologue.

That he's doing it at the PGA Tour's headquarters while at the same time overshadowing and undermining one of the marquee tournaments on the tour's schedule is another master stroke by a manipulator who seems to know no shame or have learned any lessons in humility.

Dropping this bombshell during the playing days of the WGC Match Play event that happens to be sponsored by Accenture - the first company to scuttle his endorsement deal because of the scandal - was yet another classic move by the guy who holds grudges like the Middle East.

The timing of his resurfacing - which his agent, Mark Steinberg, said couldn't wait - certainly didn't endear himself to his peers.

"It's selfish," Ernie Els told Golfweek magazine. "You can write that. I feel sorry for the sponsor. Mondays are a good day to make statements, not Friday. This takes a lot away from the golf tournament."

Tiger likes to be the upstager. Last year, you might recall, he announced his return from an eight-month injury hiatus on the Friday of Riviera week just after his rival Phil Mickelson had shot a 62 to take the tournament lead.

The whole dog-and-pony show reeks of no class - which is a fact that's been made all too apparent in the last three months. He couldn't even try to rebrand his emergence with a little dignified humility.

Woods certainly has the right to present his side of this sordid story any way he wants. He could have chosen a splashy staged appearance with Oprah or Larry King or 60 Minutes. At least then, somebody would have been asking him questions, even if a few of them were softballs.

But Woods does things his way and doesn't seem to care about the consequences, and he chose the method that's one notch above releasing a videotape of him speaking from whatever cave he's been hiding in the last three months. He makes sure he makes other people look weak in comparison - the PGA Tour and Commissioner Tim Finchem for agreeing to host this unveiling at the expense of a tournament and sponsor and the media for kowtowing to Woods' unreasonable demands of no transparency.

The process is undermining the message. Woods remained in the dark for nearly three months and then comes back to steal the spotlight from his peers and reclaim his dominion over the world around him. Is he really that arrogant?
Woods can certainly read a statement as well as anybody and is capable of feigning contrition if necessary. But does he really think this will put a lid on the inevitable questions if and when he returns? Is he going to refuse to take part in any more press conferences? Is he going to ignore the only avenue he has of reaching the public?

We'll see how he presents himself. The only thing I personally care about is when we'll see him on a golf course again. That's the only thing about him I truly miss.

Is the urgent timing of this announcement because he needs to beat the 5 p.m. deadline for committing to play in Phoenix next week - the most raucous and uncontrolled environment on the PGA Tour?

Is he going to announce that he'll take part in one or all of his usual stops on the Florida swing at Doral or Bay Hill?

Will he choose to sidestep scrutiny again by playing in the exclusive Tavistock Cup team event on March 22-23 in his own Isleworth neighborhood, where the fans are invited guests and the media is controlled?

Will he show up at the Masters?

Will he take even more time off or retire altogether?

These are the answers sports fans want to know from someone I consider the greatest golfer of any generation. His 71 tour wins and 14 major titles sit just 11 and four behind the all-time marks established by Sam Snead and Jack Nicklaus. Will his quest to surpass them resume or remain on hold indefinitely?

We'll get some answers today, even if we can't ask any questions.

But the one thing we already know is Tiger Woods is not coming back a changed man.



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