Augusta chairman says Woods disappointed fans

The chairman of Augusta National Golf Club had harsh words for
Tiger Woods, saying the world’s best golfer disappointed everyone
with his sex scandal and didn’t live up to expectations as a role
model.

Billy Payne said Wednesday that Woods won’t be judged in the
future solely on his performance as a golfer, but by the sincerity
of his efforts to change as a person.

“As he now says himself, he forgot in the process to remember
that with fame and fortune comes responsibility, not
invisibility,” Payne said during his annual state of the Masters
news conference. “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.”

Woods is returning to competitive golf for the first time since
a Thanksgiving night car crash unleashed reports of a secret
private life that included numerous extramarital affairs. He was
dropped by several major sponsors and spent 45 days in therapy.

“Our hero did not live up to the expectations of the role model
we saw for our children,” Payne said. “I hope he now realizes
that every kid he passes on the course wants his swing, but would
settle for his smile.”

Woods will tee off in the next-to-last group Thursday afternoon
with K.J. Choi and Matt Kuchar, in pursuit of his 15th major
championship and fifth Masters title.

“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,” Payne said. “This year, it will not be just for him, but
for all of us who believe in second chances.

“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.”

Payne declined to answer specific questions about Woods, saying
his prepared remarks were all he wanted to say on the matter. The
chairman also refused to address any extra security measures that
were put in place after Woods announced he would return to the game
at the year’s first major championship.

However, Payne did scoff at the notion that Woods’ decision to
play at Augusta will steal attention from the tournament
itself.

“We don’t look at things that way,” Payne said. “We are very
secure in who we are, and the Masters has almost now a 74-year
history. We just kind of do things our way. We are not threatened
by other big news stories or things like that.”