PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Tiger Woods’ first public appearance in three months already is shaping up as a national event.
Tight security restricted access on the road that leads to the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse, where Woods is to speak at 10 a.m. CST today for the first time since his Nov. 27 accident that set off sordid revelations of infidelity.
Networks reworked their programming and, by late Thursday afternoon, seven satellite trucks already had parked outside the Sawgrass Marriott. The parking lot last saw this kind of activity five years ago — for media day at the Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles.
All because Woods — surely one of the world’s most-recognized athletes — is about to re-emerge and say something in person regarding his future and his past.
The public hasn’t had a clean look at Woods’ face since photos Wednesday of him jogging in his neighborhood outside Orlando.
Far more compelling will be the sound of his voice. Woods has not been heard in the 78 days since a magazine released a voicemail he allegedly left one of the women to whom he has been romantically linked, warning that Woods’ wife might be calling.
Instead of going on Oprah or another national television show to break the ice, Woods essentially will be speaking to the lone camera allowed in the room. It will be televised via satellite.
Three networks — ABC, CBS and NBC — will carry the statement live. ESPN will have it live on all of its platforms, including Internet streaming, radio and mobile. The Golf Channel will start coverage at 9:30 a.m. — call it a 30-minute pregame show.
Almost as intriguing is which “friends, colleagues and close associates” will be in the Sunset Room on the second floor of the Mediterranean-style clubhouse at the TPC Sawgrass.
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, who made the clubhouse available and is offering logistical help, has said he would attend, and as many as four other members of his staff will be in the room.
Everyone else will congregate at the Sawgrass Marriott to watch on television monitors. The adjacent ballrooms looked ready to hold a Super Bowl party, with flat-screen TVs along the walls and a large video screen in the center of the room.
With the public not having heard from Woods — except for three statements on his Web site — in three months, this event has taken on a life of its own.
Conversation raged online, as many took glee in speculating on what Woods will say today.
One of the most popular threads on Twitter carried the tag “tigershouldsay.” Suggestions were predominantly sarcastic, such as: “At least I didn’t use steroids.”
The PGA Tour will have two tournaments in progress Friday, including the third round of the Accenture Match Play Championship, the first title sponsor to drop Woods during this sex scandal. Some players did not think it was a coincidence.
Most of them, however, will be just like everyone else — curious what Woods has to say, and how he says it.
“It has to be held at some stage,” Padraig Harrington said. “The sooner he makes a statement, the better. And the sooner he’s back to playing golf — he’s pretty good at playing golf — the better.”
The golfer is to return to therapy after he speaks on Friday.
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