Chastised Tiger stirs up more criticism
Just when it seemed the worst was over this week, Tiger Woods has managed to land himself back in controversy.
Just when Tiger Woods must have hoped the worst was over in his first week back in golf, he has managed to land himself back in controversy and come in for further criticism.
The criticism and a reminder that the world number one needs to reach out more to fans after the shocking revelations about his private life this winter were delivered, in surprisingly harsh words, from one of the most influential people in the sport.
Billy Payne, who in 1996 was president of the Atlanta Olympics organising committee and is now chairman of Augusta National, used the occasion of his eve-of-tournament press conference to attack Woods’ behaviour.
Hours later there was an opportunity for the World Number One to continue the charm offensive he appears to have embarked upon in a bid to make amends – but he once again he chose to skip the fun par three competition.
A total of 99 players, including legends like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player and other non-competing ex-major champions like Nick Faldo and Johnny Miller, all gave the galleries memories they will cherish.
Woods, though, was easily the most notable absentee, preferring time away from the crowds – and the cute family scenes with players’ children or grandchildren kitted out in white overalls and acting as caddies – to prepare for the event proper starting today.
Payne had said: “We are not unaware of the significance of this week to a very special player, a man who in a brief 13 years clearly and emphatically proclaimed and proved his game to be worthy of the likes of Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
“As he ascended in our rankings of the world’s great golfers he became an example to our kids that success is directly attributable to hard work and effort.
“But, as he now says himself, he forgot in the process to remember that with fame and fortune comes responsibility, not invisibility.
“It is not simply the degree of his conduct that is so egregious here. It is the fact that he disappointed all of us and, more importantly, our kids and our grandkids.
“Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model we saw for our children.
“Is there a way forward? I hope yes, I think yes. But certainly his future will never again be measured only by his performance against par, but measured by the sincerity of his efforts to change.
“I hope he now realises that every kid he passes on the course wants his swing, but would settle for his smile.
“I hope he can come to understand that life’s greatest rewards are reserved for those who bring joy to the lives of other people.
“We at Augusta hope and pray that our great champion will begin his new life here tomorrow in a positive, hopeful and constructive manner, but this time with a significant difference from the past.
“This year it will not be just for him, but for all of us who believe in second chances.”
Now attention turns to how Woods plays – and whether any attempt will be made to disrupt the tournament because of the Woods controversy.
“We have a significant history and track record of responding to all types of situations by the dedication of both planning and resources,” added Payne.
“Of course we were very aware of and responsive to the possible issues of this week. So without going into detail I think we did what we would always do – and that is to make adequate provision for every contingency.
“Of course we are concerned about that every year without regard to who the specific players are.
“We prepare as best as we can fully realising and knowing that when they come through the security you can screen for everything but bad intentions.
“You know, we are always on guard.”
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