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Tiger Tales

Time for Tiger's golf to do the talking for a change.

Posted Apr 06, 2010 by Dermot Gilleece

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The great Tiger inquisition has come and gone, leaving us wondering what all the fuss was about.  Are we any wiser?  Not really. Is this the end of it? Probably not.

When Monday's press conference was first announced a few weeks ago, we had smug journalists predicting an extremely uncomfortable exercise for Mr Woods.  It would be a lot different to the stage-managed 'confession' arranged for Sawgrass in February. And there would certainly be no repeat of the softly-softly treatment he had enjoyed in two, five-minute television interviews last month.

So what did we get?  Essentially, I found it to be a rather bland affair which partially answered some key questions and left others still hanging in the air.  And in truth, the actual structure of things made any other outcome impossible.

Subjected to the Jeremy Paxman treatment on a one-to-one basis, Woods would have been hit with follow-up questions to some rather glib replies.  Paxman would have come at him again and again until he was either more forthcoming or was rendered embarrassed at his own stone-walling.

What we witnessed in the media centre of Augusta National, however, was a long way removed from the discomfiture of Newsnight interviewees. And it couldn't really have been any other way, giving that the conference involved no fewer than 207 journalists, all of whom was anxious to get their question in.

New Zealander, Craig Heatley, chairman of Augusta National's media committee, acted as moderator.  And to the great credit of the host club, there were no preconditions. Once Heatley had briefly introduced the four-time Masters champion, it was effectively open season on questions.

An early question concerned Woods's admitted involvement with Anthony Galea, the Canadian doctor arrested in the US with possession of performance enhancing drugs. This was an issue which needed to be pursued with far more vigour than was available in this particular forum. Like, for instance, why the world's top golfer would accept treatment from a medic who was not registered in the state of Florida?           

Then there was the infamous, low-speed accident last November which started it all. When asked to explain it, Woods hid behind the fact that the police had dealt with the matter, fined him, and pronounced it a closed case. A follow-up question, however, might be: "We understand that, Tiger. But for the benefit the golfing public, who feared for your future in the game on initially hearing about the incident, would it not be helpful to explain the circumstances of the accident, even though there's no obligation on you to do so?"

A press conference situation doesn't readily offer this sort of opportunity, except if journalists decide to work together and follow-up each other's questions. And the fact that Woods took refuge behind the police decision on the matter, it raised more questions than it answered.

In the final analysis, I believe we have to accept him at his word and move on from here.  There was no way to judge from his general demeanour on Monday whether he was actually sincere in what he said, for the simple reason that we don't understand the man.  He's an enigma. We don't know the way he thinks.  There is no yardstick by which we could measure whether we were genuinely witnessing a reformed sinner.

Either way, his golf will do the talking from now on.  Which, of course, is what it always did.

 

 

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