March 15 — A day after saying he was “excited” about Tiger Woods’ imminent return to golf, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has sparked rumors that he will announce Woods’ comeback during a Monday afternoon meeting with golf writers.
Finchem scheduled a 2:30 p.m. EST teleconference with media members, many of whom believe he will announce the time and place of Woods’ comeback.
Tiger rumblings. Rumors abound that Woods planned to:
- Make his return at the unofficial Tavistock Cup on March 22-March 23
- Play the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill (March 22-march 28) before the Masters
- Wait until the Masters begins on April 8 to fuel the media and fan frenzy that’s sure to ensue
With Finchem telling NBC Sports Sunday that “we’ll hear soon” about Woods’ comeback plans, rumors are flying about Finchem’s presser.
“I hope [Woods comes back] this spring,” he said, “but my sense is we’ll know pretty soon.”
CA out? Of course, Finchem also hinted Sunday during the WGC-CA Championship that the sponsor, CA (formerly known as Computer Associates), may pull out of the tourney. So, all the Tiger talk may be for naught — for a change.
“South Park” talk? He may also want to discuss the upcoming season premier of “South Park,” which will, no doubt, take a viciously hilarious swing at the wayward golfer. Nah, probably not.
Guessing game. When and where Tiger lands is still anybody’s guess, but Boston PR pro Jennifer George believed that Woods hired political flack Ari Fleischer to manage his on- and off-course image.
Better late than never? “The fact that Tiger hired PR counsel is absolutely a smart move,” George said in an e-mail to Boston Golf Examiner, “albeit quite late in the game.”
While Woods has been hitting the range hard, he may be putting in as much time on his media strategy. George, accounts supervisor with Cone Inc. and a member of the Publicity Club of New England’s board of directors, said such tactics may include interviews with select media members “to discuss the details of his comeback and, of course, his transgressions.”
Woods’ crisis management: What not to do. While it’s too late for Woods to follow George’s advise to meet the press long ago, he still has time to move past his “case study in what not to do during a crisis,” George said.
If George were handling Woods’ PR, she would suggest that her client:
- Show emotion. Make people believe you actually feel remorse. “Reading from a script in a monotone [as Woods did in his February 19 televised apology] did nothing to humanize his image,” George noted.
- Focus. His rambling, 13-minute speech was all over the place, covering Buddhism, his foundation, and his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs.
- Answer questions, even the tough ones. “Rebuilding trust starts with authenticity and transparency,” said George.
- Ditch the stagecraft. The formal curtain and lectern were “far too sterile for the occasion,” George averred.
As for where and when, George believed the Masters made the most sense for Woods’ first foray back to the links.
“The Masters is more restrictive with the media, even prohibiting media inside the ropes,” George said. “That will probably be a more comfortable venue for him.”
As always, stay tuned.
Woods’ pal and number-two golfer in the world, Steve Stricker, has other ideas about Tiger’s return. Read how Stricker urges Woods to get back on the course before the Masters to minimize the distraction. Good luck with that, Steve.