The public believes Tiger Woods’ televised apology on Feb. 19 was sincere.
An ABC News/ESPN poll says 54 percent believe Woods is sorry for the affairs that threaten his marriage and have ground his golf career to a halt. More than 1,000 were polled last week; 22 percent did not believe he was sincere and 24 percent had no opinion.
Woods’ favorable rating remains low, at 39 percent. Woods’ favorable rating was 88 percent in 2000 and 85 in 2005.
Meanwhile, a Sports Illustrated poll of Golf Magazine’s top 100 teachers revealed only 12 percent said their opinion of Woods improved after the apology (30 percent down, 58 percent unchanged). Instructors also were polled on how the affairs will affect Woods’ golf game.
The results: No change, 45 percent; worse, 33 percent; better, 22 percent.
New Jersey teaching pro Mike Lopuszynski thought Woods’ game would improve. “How could 18 girlfriends and a wife not be a distraction?”
NUMBERS CHANGE: Mark Calcavecchia, close friend and golfing partner to Woods, says his pal changed his phone number five times last year.
“I didn’t really think about it, but in the course of last year he changed his number five times,” Calcavecchia told Golf.com. “The last time he did, I said, ‘Man, you change phone numbers more than I change underwear.'”
One of Woods’ mistresses, Jaimee Grubbs, disclosed text messages and voicemails from the golfing great last year after it was revealed he’d been cheating on his wife. She said Woods often changed his phone number and asked her to change her voicemail message, after his wife, Elin, allegedly went through his phone.
“It was always something silly,” Calcavecchia says. “But I sent him a couple of texts right after all this stuff started and obviously he didn’t get back to me. I’m sure one of these days out of nowhere he’ll text me and say, ‘This is my new number.'”
SABBATINI’S TAKE: Rory Sabbatini often has been linked in a feud with Woods. And while the alleged feud has been overblown, Sabbatini seems to hold some kind of resentment for Tiger’s success or, at least, his hold on the media, calling Tiger a “golden boy.”
“I think it’s going to be interesting to see the reaction of the public to Tiger,” Sabbatini said at a Dallas luncheon for the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Sabbatini is the defending champion in the May 20-23 event. “He’s always been the golden boy of the spectators. It’s definitely going to be interesting to see how people react to that and how they respond to everything that’s occurred.”
Sabbatini calls the feud a “media-driven” story after his comment about Woods’ vulnerability after winning the Wachovia Championship in 2007.
“It’s never really been from him or from myself,” Sabbatini said in a story reported by The Associated Press. “Obviously, there’s never really been much of a relationship with Tiger. He has his group of friends and that’s the way it is.”
Sabbatini thinks Woods’ game won’t be any worse becuase of the layoff.
“We all know Tiger is a great player,” Sabbatini said. “I don’t think anybody is going to be disappointed in his performance. I think he’ll come back out and play well. We all know you don’t just have a talent like that and it disappears. It’s going to be there, it’s going to return. He’s going to be playing well. It’s going to be interesting to see how his mental game is and how his head is in regards to keeping his focus.”