After disappearing from golf since a post-Thanksgiving accident that sparked a tabloid scandal, Tiger Woods will make his first public appearance on Friday.
Woods will conduct a limited news conference at 11 a.m. on Friday from the PGA Tour's headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. The Golf Channel said it will televise the news conference live from footage made available from a pool cameraman.
According to a statement released by Woods' camp, "Tiger Woods will be speaking to a small group of friends, colleagues and close associates at [11 a.m. Friday] at the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Tiger plans to discuss his past and his future and he plans to apologize for his behavior."
"While Tiger feels that what happened is fundamentally a matter between him and his wife, he also recognizes that he has hurt and let down a lot of other people who were close to him," said a statement posted on Woods' web site 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."
Officials said that Woods will not take questions. Only three wire services and a group of three reporters selected by the Golf Writers Association of America will be allowed to attend on behalf of the media.
"We were asked to help provide a place for him to do this," said PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem in an interview during the first-round coverage of the WGC Match Play event in Arizona. "I'll be as interested as everybody else what he says."
Woods has been virtually unseen and silent since revelations of multiple infidelities that led him to announce on his Web site in December an indefinite leave from golf. He reportedly underwent treatment for sex addiction at a Mississippi facility, prompting the only reported pictures of him since he vanished after a late-night car crash outside of his home in Isleworth prompted a landslide of scrutiny on the world's No. 1 player.
"I am deeply aware of the disappointment and hurt that my infidelity has caused to so many people, most of all my wife and children," Woods said in his last posted statement on Dec. 11. "I want to say again to everyone that I am profoundly sorry and that I ask forgiveness. It may not be possible to repair the damage I've done, but I want to do my best to try.
"After much soul searching, I have decided to take an indefinite break from professional golf. I need to focus my attention on being a better husband, father, and person."
The rumor mill has heated up lately about his possible return to golf. The tabloid website TMZ.com has reported that Woods will play March 22-23 in the Tavistock Cup team matches on his home course at Isleworth and then play in the Masters Tournament. Neither the Woods camp nor the Tavistock Group that operates the exclusive event has confirmed those reports.
Finchem, who has not spoken to Woods during the last three months, said he had no indication what kind of timetable Woods might announce for his return to the game. Finchem said he will return to Florida to attend the news conference.
"I'm assuming that this development means he's making progress on the issues he said he was going to deal with," Finchem said. "We want him to come back and play as soon as possible."
The Wednesday bombshell overshadowed the coverage of the first round of the Match Play event sponsored by Accenture, which happened to be the first sponsor to drop Woods as an endorser in the aftermath of his scandalous revelations. The Friday press conference will dominate the news cycle and conversation on the day the eight quarterfinal matches will be played.
"It's encouraging that he's coming back to at least be seen by the public, and the rest of us, too," said British Open champion Stewart Cink after winning his first-round match. "I consider myself the public when we're talking about this matter. So it's good that we're going to see Tiger Woods.
"I don't know what he's going to talk about, really. I think it's coincidental that he would pick the Friday of Accenture to announce. It's probably got more to do with his schedule than anything else. It will be good to see Tiger's face again, and see that he's actually out there somewhere. We haven't really known much. I'm glad to hear that. I think this is maybe the beginning of the come back process for him."