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Woods set for Masters grilling

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Iain Carter | 21:04 UK time, Sunday, 4 April 2010

The ticker runs without interruption on the big screen in the media centre. Sandwiched between footage of past Masters glories a message to reporters slides across the screen and confirms the preoccupation of the first major of the year.

"If you are confirmed for Monday's 1400 (1900 BST) interview, please register at reception," reads the instruction to journalists nominated to attend.

No mention of who will be appearing at the news conference because there is no need to trail who will be showing up. Furthermore to do so would suggest the interview is something more than the Masters. The Tournament would never want to admit to that.

But Tiger Woods' first sustained public questioning since his scandal ridden fall from grace is the reason why the Augusta National has needed to take the unprecedented step of making his news conference an all-ticket affair.

tiger595.jpg Woods made a surprise appearance at Augusta on Sunday - photo: AP

Inside the grounds of the Augusta National it feels no different than previous years. That is apart from when the ripple of whispers went round as word reached us that Woods had joined his pal Mark O'Meara on the tenth tee early on Sunday afternoon.

The reason it feels the same is because it is the usual suspects who occupy the seats in the auditorium that serves as Augusta's media centre. When news broke of Woods return here no extra provision was made to accommodate the extra interest he would generate.

No news organisations could accredit extra staff or change personnel, regardless of the fact that the event would attract interest beyond its usual constituency.

So the satellite trucks of the TV stations who don't regularly attend are parked on the other side of the road, while the tabloid websites so infatuated with the Woods story over the last four months are left to scalp for tickets to gain access to the course.

Rumours abound that these celebrity scandal sites are trying to provide a route into the Augusta National for one or more of Woods's extra marital liaisons. Guards are on alert to make sure this remains about the Masters and not the mistresses.

Woods, meanwhile, can expect some pretty hostile questioning during his news conference. Before his world fell apart his dealings with the golfing press had been deteriorating as he provided the blandest of fare with his often dismissive answers.

The week before he won the Australian Masters in November last year he played the WGC Champions event in Shanghai. In one of his early rounds he picked up a birdie after fluffing a sand wedge to the green and then chipping in from a very improbable lie.

One of the game's most experienced writers, Lewine Mair, who is well known to Woods, politely asked him to describe what happened on that hole. "Drive and then sand wedge and then chipped in," came the monosyllabic reply.

That's how bad it was getting; little did we know what was going to unfold within three weeks. Maybe the pressure of Woods's double life was manifesting itself in his testy relationship with the media.

Reporters won't be seeking some kind of revenge when they quiz him here. They will be seeking an insight into the the man who is currently sport's most famous and infamous figure.

Expect relatively few questions about his private life - none of our business anyway - and we're more than aware that enlightening answers will not be forthcoming.

But there will be rigorous quizzing on his relationship with the controversial Canadian doctor Anthony Galea and on the allegations of some kind of dependence on pain killers.

Woods will be expected to provide answers on these subjects because they go to the heart of modern day sport and because he was such a vocal supporter of drug testing being introduced in golf.

The world number one has vowed to "be more respectful of the game" and it will be interesting to note his tone in the interview room.

I won't be in there having turned down the offer of a ticket. The reason is purely logistical as I'll be in my usual seat at the back of the media centre introducing the news conference as it is aired live on 5Live at 1900 BST.

Thankfully it has been scheduled for the start of the week. It provides a focal point that generates huge interest in the game but by Thursday the golf will be doing the talking and that ticker will be scrolling scores to capture the public's imagination.

The cameras will still be on Woods at that stage, but who knows who will be the object of their focus come Sunday? Ultimately that is still the biggest question of the week - just like it always is.


  • Comment number 1.

    Nice article, can't believe you gave up the chance of a ticket to have Peter Allen introduce you! Welcome back Tiger, the world is watching and listening...can you live upto your words? Do actions speak louder than........

  • Comment number 2.

    This is People Magazine stuff, nothing to do with golf or The Masters.
    Who cares? And who really thinks this won't be the most tightly press conference in the history of press conferences??
    The BBC would have been better off covering the Houston tournament and Karen Stupples's bid for the Nabisco. You, after all, are the one who goes on about how faithful the Beeb is in covering women's golf. Kidding, of course.
    But you did make a good decision not attending. What could you have asked? I won't speculate.
    Pathetic journalism, not necessarily by you, but by the BBC.

  • Comment number 3.

    "The world number one has vowed to "be more respectful of the game" and it will be interesting to note his tone in the interview room."


    How so? Does being more respectful of the game somehow equate to being more respectful of the media? Only if one equates the media with the game itself, which seems a trifle of the beam.

    Inded, Woods' dismissive attitude towards the press is one of the few things that I've been impressed by in the sorry rigmarole of his recent adventures. Now if only he would have the guts to tell his sponsors where to stuff it, I might really begin to warm to him...

  • Comment number 4.

    I like many others will wait and analyse every comment he makes at the press conference.I totally agree he has to answer questions specifically related to golf and what he must remember the media will have all the challenging comments he made in the past on tape. He therefore has to accept that these comments will form part of the questioning ,more so now after what has happened in the last few months. For me Tiger Woods has to gain the respect of his fellow golfers and the public not just because of the fall out after the car accident but before when he basically showed no respect to anyone coming into his space.We know that and he knows that and if he thinks this will change by Sunday evening I think he has been conned by his counsellors.Tiger will be at home on this course but he can't play the Masters every week, Round 1 has just begun

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi Iain, nice article. Notice how Tiger was wearing shades. The only place he has done that before was in Dubai, to keep the sand out of his eyes. Think this is a sure sign he is nervous. Hope it goes well tonight and we get back to the golf. I still think an outsider is going to win this week.

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm always amazed at how the media(and yes that means you also)have this over inflated opinion of themselves, like they are all the second coming and have never put a foot wrong. No matter what Tiger has done or will ever do, nobody will damage the game of golf more than the media NOBODY.

    No either go and get a job with the daily star to write this clap-trap, or give us a real blog about golf.

  • Comment number 7.

    'His World has fallen apart' - ofcourse it hasn't. This is a rediculous statement

  • Comment number 8.

    The big issue with Tiger is not his extra marital affairs - they dont impinge on his golfing greatness but it it more about his use of the Canadian Doctor Anthony Galea - why conceivably could he have been using him given his background and his inability to practice medicine in the US - I'm afraid that my belief in him is the same as Floyd Landis, Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery, Michelle deBruin, Lance Armstrong - I feel it is only a matter of time before the investigative journalist dig deep and find the truth !!

  • Comment number 9.

    people need to give tiger woods a break. fair enough enuf he made alot of big mistakes (HE'S ONLY HUMAN!!!!!!) the media are plain stupid at times its his returnm to golf and its at the u.s masters so instead of askin tiger about his return and how he feels before the tournemnt he is going to be grilled about his private life and will therefore probably lose all focus going into this thursday

  • Comment number 10.

    The adverts on BBC and the news information regarding Mr Woods. Am I to assume we will be having the fiasco of Mr Woods and his problems or are we going to see all the other golfers of the world playing the sport we love. Please inform us if we are going to watch a soap opera programme or a famous golf program.

  • Comment number 11.

    Its good to see him back - while he clearly isn`t the best husband in the world, he is the best golfer in the world and there was a danger he was going to be remembered as the former rather than the latter. Its a tough call for him this week, there are likely to be many distractions that will test his concentration even more than the course, but he has proven before how good he is and I look forward to seeing him cement his name at the top of golfing history.

  • Comment number 12.

    Would be interesting to know how he was hitting the ball in practice. Any ideas?

  • Comment number 13.

    Despite most of the comments here, hands up all those golf fans who can honestly say they did not click on any story about Wood's mysterious car crash when it first emerged, and was not even slightly curious to read further information later?

    Honestly, anyone with their hand up now is a liar.

    I would agree that I don't see much point in the press conference turning into a Q&A about his private life, since everything that can be said has been said. But let's be honest, even if they stick to golf it is going to be crushingly boring.

    Journo: "Tiger, do you think you can win?"
    Tiger: "Well, I have been out for a while but I am going to give it my best shot and am glad to be back." etc.


    I mean, really, what is the point of sports press conferences? All the questions are replies are so utterly predictable. At least a couple about whether he is still nailing birdies might introduce a bit of entertainment value.

  • Comment number 14.

    Tigers's only problem was trying to paint himself as a family man, presumably to maximize his sponsorship potential. I was surprised that he felt the need to make a grovelling apology at that "press conference". Why not just say "this is between me and my family, none of anybody elses business".
    Could it be that he was only thinking of sponsorship dollars again?

  • Comment number 15.

    Have just watched Tiger in practice. He seems to be hitting it ok, but failed to find the green with two attempts on the long par three fourth. He used a wood while Couples ran to the back of the green with a long iron. Woods chipped in twice on the third and received polite applause rather than the raucous cheers such shots would have previously generated. The shades are at the ready perched on the back of his cap. Lovely morning.

  • Comment number 16.

    I agree that the focus should remain on his golf. However, by selecting the Masters as his comeback, Woods has ensured that this will not be the case and that the first Major of the year will be overshadowed by everything which happened over the winter.

    To my mind this shows total disrespect for the game and for his fellow pros. It is also interesting that he chooses a tournament where admission is more controlled than most, reducing the possibility of comment from the gallery.

    Unfortunately, Woods has done nothing thus far to show the world that he anything other than the self-centred, self righteous and rather unpleasant character depicted during the winter. Sure none of us are perfect - but then we didn't try to pretend otherwise.

  • Comment number 17.


    As you know its not about just hitting greens at Augusta, its where you miss that counts. The wood you refer to is his little trusted 5 wood. Like yourself, Im sure, I have witnessed his shot repertoire with that club. He can manipulate it like no other... he can get it to fly high and land soft. play it low(his sting shot) and chase. In my opinion when the 4th plays at it longest from the back tee, it will be the perfect club.

    Does it really matter how or what he plays like until the gun goes off. He has shown on many occasions that he doesnt have to be in control of his swing to win or compete. Its his head that need to be sharp. And Im sure that he wouldnt be playing if he thought that he wasnt in the right frame of mind.

  • Comment number 18.

    For the record...

    I am posting this to apologise to Crocodile(Dundee Neil). I see Mr Choi has made the field at Augusta. Currently ranked 43rd in the world. Last time I checked he was outside the Top 50 by a distance.

    Dont fancy his chances though.

  • Comment number 19.

    There's one main reason for Woods' shades - the extraordinary pollen levels here on a sweletering lunchtime

  • Comment number 20.

    @stonecold's rightknee and others saying the media is to blame for the hype surrounding Tiger's return.

    I don't think this blog was on its high horse at all. And sure, most people have skeletons in their closets in some way or another.

    But this is irrelevant when you are reporting on the infidelities of one of sport's biggest stars. Because even before his gallivanting came to light, non-golf fans across the world recognised him. And people will want to hear his side of the story - or at least see if he scotches some of the wild rumours flying around.

    I think this blog gave a fascinating insight into the storm surrounding Tiger's return.

    One interesting sideshow will be how the questioning will differ between the American hacks and the ones from the UK.

    I have been told about a Wimbledon press conference where John McEnroe was doing the usual post-match duties soon after allegations of philandering were in the press. The US hacks were tip-toeing round the issue, asking McEnroe to "talk us through the fourth game in the third set..."

    Then a British tabloid journalist jumped in and brought up the allegations of him cheating. McEnroe walked and and a punch-up ensued - between the hacks from either side of the Atlantic.

  • Comment number 21.

    It is naive of ANYONE to think that Tiger Wood's conference at Augusta will be a "revelation'. The journalist or fan (sorry patron) who acts or speaks out of place (that includes asking "embarrassing" questions) will be BANNED for a very long time.What reporter will want to risk his "career" in such circumstances!!!!

  • Comment number 22.

    It is interesting to read all the comments so far made. Two points are being missed in this debate as far as i understand.
    1) The Masters is an appropriate event to see the return of Tiger. First and foremost he is a professional golfer who may well gain an exceptional amount of public attention as a result of his personal problems. Nobody seems to have any thought for how this will impact on his playing partners in the first two rounds, or subsequent rounds should he make the cut. That amount of attention may well prove to be a handicap to his fellow golfers.
    2)The Masters is a very well organized and controlled event in many ways, with emphasis firmly placed on the golf and nothing else. Golfing media appears to have taken little interest in Mr. Woods' personal life - which is as it should be. The public has taken to Tiger for his sporting prowess and commitment to succeeding in his profession so setting an example of what hard work and dedication can achieve. That is his contribution to the game. Scandalous behavior is NOT what golf offers millions of players - lets play on the strengths of the game - namely, honesty and ability irrespective of race or creed.

  • Comment number 23.

    I am very interested to hear about Woods' form and what he thinks of his chances this week. The rest (apart from any potential dependencies on banned substances), which has not a lot to do with golf, I'll gladly leave to the columns of the tabloids.
    I hope Fred enjoyed his practice round with TW. Although he might make the cut, Fred has not the remotest chance of winning.
    Choi will make the top 15, as he has been in pretty good nick of late, hence his rise up he world rankings. Not a potential winner though.
    Apart from hitting 2 or 3 rank awful shots last week, Westwood could have easily won at Houston. Casey's enforced lay off might be hiding a more serious injury than it seems. Any news on either of those two from the locker room Iain? What is Poulter's mood like?

  • Comment number 24.

    Powder-Puff performance by the press. But it was interesting to hear one participant's perspective who thought that you could tell the questions he wasn't prepared to discuss. Short answer being code for "That's a bad question".
    Anything to do with his accident, wife, future playing plans and Ryder Cup participation all fell into that csategory, the first two perhaps understandably so, the second two meaning that speculation as to playing schedule, and the accompanying circus, will be repeated. Personally, I thought it sounded as if he had no plans for Ryder Cup play.
    As for why he would associate with a known purveyor of HGH, only Tiger knows, as Bill Plaschke says, "What was he thinking?"

  • Comment number 25.

    In reply to "sad" @ 12:39, we can only assume that coverage of the other competing golfers on the BBC will depend on what the broadcasters from Augusta will provide the BBC with.
    May I suggest you contact the powers-that-be at Augusta National to answer that question?

  • Comment number 26.

    Why are Woosie, Langer, Lyle etc playing ? yes I know they have exemptions but gee, there not gonna win this Masters.
    New ruling PGA. You join the Old Boys Tour, you forgo the majors.

    Let the young ones have a go !

  • Comment number 27.

    Respectful of the game of golf ?
    STOP SPITTING ON THE COURSE !!!!! ( and stop swearing )

  • Comment number 28.

    Iain, as you're English I can understand your pronunciation but for anyone foreigner who speaks English, listening to you, they'd wonder where this tournament is being played. It's not AWRGUSTA it's AWGUSTA there is no R in it it's just plain old AUGUSTA as in AUGUST or am I wrong. Just a little rectification from a typical Scortsman.

  • Comment number 29.



  • Comment number 30.

    Nice article Iain. Pertinent and important conclusion: we need to bring it back to the golf. We all knew that Woods would never miss a major unnecessarily. Tiger the golfer hasn't changed.

    There's a competitive field at Augusta. Could the green jacket go back to South America? for an insight into why it might.

  • Comment number 31.


    Am I right in saying that the par 3 7th at Pebble Beach is a copy of the 16th hole at The Glen Golf Club in North Berwick?


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