Did Tiger Intentionally Submarine Accenture? His Agent Says No
Woods, golf's tarnished hero, finally is prepared to speak, scheduling an 11 a.m. appearance Friday in the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., home of PGA Tour headquarters, and look what his first sighting in almost three months will upstage: The World Golf Championship event sponsored by the very corporation that was the first to sever its relationship with the sex scandal-plagued golfer.
Woods' camp insists the scheduling is an unfortunate necessity that could not be helped.
Contacted after Friday's appearance was announced, Woods' IMG agent, Mark Steinberg, strongly disputed any suggestion of any kind of payback.
"Never would we do anything to intentionally hurt Accenture," Steinberg told FanHouse.
"They were a wonderful partner of Tiger's for many years and they run one of the elite tournaments on the golf calendar. In fact, I personally reached out to Accenture prior to this announcement so they knew in advance. Accenture could not have been more understanding and appreciative of this effort and wished Tiger well for Friday and beyond."
Still, at the very least, the timing of the appearance opens the door to believe the worst.
"I suppose he wants to get something back at a sponsor who dropped him," said European Tour youngster Rory McIlroy in a candid response.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem was far less of a conspiracy theorist, even attempting to deflect the immediate reaction.
"I don't look at it that way," Finchem said. "I just don't. They have their own reasons for their schedule. My sense is it has nothing to do with who happens to be playing this week."
All the same, Woods' long-awaited response to an embarrassing string of extramarital relationships is shaping up as another strange step in an already questionably managed effort at damage control.
To start, according to a statement released by Steinberg, the golfer intends to "discuss his past and his future and intends to apologize for his behavior." But he will not take questions; he will only make a statement.
Attendance at the function is being limited to individuals invited by the IMG agent.
"Tiger Woods will be speaking to a small group of friends, colleagues and close associates ..." Steinberg's notice read.
"This will not be an open media event."
The few, selected media members allowed in attendance will serve as "pool reporters,'' sharing their notes.
Any other media in attendance must view the event on television from a nearby conference center.
Such restrictions continue to reflect the attempt by Woods and his representatives to manage the news story that quickly and long ago became unmanageable.
Woods, 34, went underground shortly after a Nov. 27 auto accident outside his Orlando home in the gated community of Isleworth that opened a flood gate of reports that led to an admission he had been unfaithful to his wife, Elin.
He has not spoken publicly since. Meanwhile, a steady string of women -- cocktail waitresses, party girls, porn stars and the popular Perkins' Restaurant server -- surfaced along with all sorts of sordid allegations.
Even a reported stretch spent in a sex-rehab clinic produced celebrity-journalism reports of misbehavior that may or may not be true, but took root in silence.
Now, finally an appearance is scheduled, and instead of calming the waters, its timing brings more sarcasm.
"You'd have to ask the Woods' camp about the schedule," Finchem said. "We were asked to make the facility available and help with the logistics. That's what we're doing. And my sense is that this is part of his schedule and what he's dealing with and going through, but I don't know."
Finchem also said he had no indication of Woods' future playing plans.
Recent tour speculation suggests Woods is likely to begin preparation for April's Masters, the year's first major, by competing in the unofficial Tavistock Cup on March 22-23. The Tavistock is played in Orlando and is an annual team competition held between Lake Nona and Isleworth Country Clubs, both heavy with PGA Tour players as members.
He would then be likely to make his first tour appearance at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, played across town from his Orlando home.
IMG not only represents Woods and Palmer, but also runs the Bay Hill event.
"I don't really have a reaction except that I am pleased he is going to make some comments and do what the statement says he's going to do," Finchem said, insisting he had no indication if Woods will announce a playing schedule.
The commissioner did confirm a desire to have the world's No. 1 ranked player back in action.
"As soon as possible, possible meaning when he has dealt with what he left the game to deal with," Finchem said. "I don't want him back before that. That's the decision he has to make. In a vacuum we'd like him back as soon as possible. But we want him back, importantly, when he has dealt with the issues he felt like he had to deal with to come back.
"I'm not going to assume anything. I'm going to wait and see what he says, like everybody else, and we'll learn what he has to say. There is nothing to assume or not assume."