Golf

Tiger to speak publicly on Friday, will discuss future plans

Tiger Woods (Getty Images)
Tiger Woods (R) jogs with an unidentified friend near his home on February 17, 2010 in Orlando,...
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Tiger Woods will end nearly three months of silence Friday when he speaks publicly for the first time since his middle-of-the-night car accident sparked stunning revelations of infidelity.
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Tiger Woods (right) jogs with an unidentified friend near his home in Orlando, Fla. This was the first time Woods was photographed in more than a month. Sam Greenwood


However, his agent said Woods will not take any questions from a small group of media.

"Tiger is reading a statement, a public apology," Mark Steinberg told FOXSports.com's Robert Lusetich. "No questions. It is not a news conference."

It will be Woods' first public appearance since Nov. 27, when he crashed his SUV into a tree outside his Florida home. Woods' only comments since then have been made through his Web site.

Woods is to speak at 11 a.m. Friday from the clubhouse at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., home of the PGA Tour. He will return to therapy afterward according to a letter from PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem obtained by The Associated Press.

Finchem's letter to the PGA Tour policy board and other officials explained why Woods chose Friday to make his first public comments, which are to be televised live by the major networks.

"As we understand it, Tiger's therapy called for a week's break at this time during which he has spent a few days with his children and then will make his statement before returning," Finchem said in the letter Thursday. "Accordingly, there was very little flexibility in the date for the announcement."

The letter shed no light on whether Woods plans to return to the tour anytime soon.

"This is all about the next step," Steinberg said. "He's looking forward to it."

Still, there was strict control over the appearance, typical of Woods' career.

Steinberg described the gathering as a "small group of friends, colleagues and close associates," who will listen to Woods apologize as he talks about the past and what he plans to do next.

Sources close to Woods say he is keen to return to playing golf. He is expected to make his debut either at the made-for-television Tavistock Cup, featuring teams of professional golfers from two gated communities in Orlando, or at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, also held in Orlando. The Tavistock Cup is being held March 22-23, while the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which Woods has won six times, begins on the final Thursday in March. He is expected to play in the Masters in April.

Three wire services -- the Associated Press, Reuters and Bloomberg -- were invited to Friday's event. The Golf Writers Association of America was offered a pool of three reporters, negotiated for six reporters, then its board of directors voted overwhelmingly not to participate.

"I cannot stress how strongly our board felt that this should be open to all media and also for the opportunity to question Woods," said Vartan Kupelian, president of the 950-member group. "The position, simply put, is all or none. This is a major story of international scope. To limit the ability of journalists to attend, listen, see and question Woods goes against the grain of everything we believe."

Only one camera will be in the room to provide live coverage via satellite. Steinberg said other writers with proper credentials could watch from a hotel ballroom more than a mile away.

Steinberg said in an e-mail announcing the public appearance, "While Tiger feels that what happened is fundamentally a matter between he and his wife, he also recognizes that he has hurt and let down a lot of other people who were close to him. He also let down his fans. He wants to begin the process of making amends and that's what he's going to discuss."

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The timing is peculiar. It will be held during the Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona, sure to steal attention away from the first big event of the year. Accenture was the first sponsor to drop Woods when he became embroiled in the sex scandal.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said he did not think Woods' appearance was going to undermine a World Golf Championship event.

"We have tournaments every week," Finchem said. "I think it's going to be a story in and of itself. A lot of people are going to be watching golf this week to see what the world of golf says about it, my guess is. So that will be a good thing."

As far as the PGA Tour's part in the Woods event, Finchem said: "We were asked to make the facility available and to help with the logistics. That's what we're doing."

Woods made a spectacular fall from his perch atop golf. He was believed to have been the first athlete to gross $1 billion in earnings and endorsements and, at 14 majors, was closing in on golf's record of 18 majors held by Jack Nicklaus.

It all collapsed the in the morning hours after Thanksgiving.

Over the last few months, Woods has been on the cover of gossip magazines and the butt of jokes on national talk shows.

In the days before Woods' accident, a National Enquirer story alleged the world's No. 1 golfer had been seeing a New York nightclub hostess. Following the crash, a stream of women came forward to claim they had romantic relationships with Woods. One woman provided Us Weekly magazine a voicemail she said Woods left her three days before the crash, asking her to take his number off the phone.

Woods admitted to "infidelity" in a statement on his Web site in mid-December and has been on an indefinite break from golf ever since.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.


Tagged: Tiger Woods

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