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 on 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 November 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 on Thursday with

K.J. Choi of South Korea and Matt Kuchar of the United States, 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.”