Gorant: I felt like it helped to have actual golf this week. (Shock, even without Tiger.) It made visible the fact that the game goes on.
Van Sickle: It wasn't so bad when Tiger was out the first time after knee surgery because we knew he was coming back. This time, he's embarrassed and disgraced, and we don't know for sure if or when he's coming back. There is no light in the Tiger tunnel this time. That's a big difference.
Gorant: I've reached a saturation point personally. Don't care where he is, if he's getting divorced, how many women will come out of the woodwork. When he's back I look forward to watching him play. Until then, don't bug me with it anymore, especially since everything out there is speculation. Nearly everyone with a column or a blog is throwing darts at the wall. It's tiresome.
Shipnuck: It will help mitigate Tiger's absence if some big-time players step up and take a lead role. Ogilvy has the game and the charisma, he just needs to be more consistent. A hot start by Phil would be huge. AK, Camilo, Sergio if those guys can win early it will be huge for the Tour.
Evans: We need a compelling human interest story. Great golf from those guys isn't enough to replace Tiger. He's been more than simply great, and there is no one else in the game with that WOW factor, like you'd get with Tiger or Ali or DiMaggio.
Gorant: It starts with winning, though. The key to getting the public's attention is being great. Tiger didn't really have a great human interest story, hard as his father tried to create one. In fact he was painfully bland, and that blandness allowed people to turn him into whatever they wanted. Be great, the rest will follow.
Bamberger: Tiger is the best human interest story that golf's ever had. The guy who can explain Tiger's dominance will make you forget all about the Little Red Book. He did his best to make himself look uninteresting, but his scorecards proved otherwise. People keep saying, "Oh, he made all this money in endorsements trading on his reputation as a family man." It's almost funny. He made his money, all of it, on his greatness. As an athlete.
Van Sickle: Alan is right on the money about Phil. Every Masters preview is going to consider the gallant battles fought against cancer by his family, and rightly so. Phil winning a major this year could be front-page stuff due to his back-story.
Van Sickle: One more Tiger question: will he ever speak with media again?
Bamberger: As long as he has his website and Golf Channel he really doesn't need to.
Evans: Athletes don't need the media the way they used to. Tiger will shun the media unless we're talking about his scorecard.
Van Sickle: Tiger can return and go on a charm offensive, or he can return and go total Howard-Hughes-meets-Ben-Hogan, with a little Steve Carlton mixed in. I'd advise the former but wouldn't be the least bit surprised by the latter.
Evans: Ben Hogan is a more likely character study for Tiger than Hughes or Carlton. Hogan was congenitally unhappy and dissatisfied despite surviving a car crash, winning everything and building a successful golf company. But I don't think Tiger wants to wear Hogan's grimace. You can't sell golf clubs with your head down.
Herre: I think the way Woods has handled the scandal to this point is a pretty good indicator of how he intends to handle things when and if he returns.
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: He's just got to be a human being. How hard is that? Be authentic, be humble and lose the false modesty. Easier said than done, but I'm convinced even Tiger can do it. (By the way, the next time anyone from the Woods camp "handles" anything about this scandal will be the first.)
Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I can see Tiger going the Vijay Singh route. Only going into an interview room every few months, whether he's tied for the lead, in the lead or two shots back. I just don't see him suddenly opening up. I think he plays golf as a bigger mystery than he was before.
Morfit: If Tiger goes on full radio silence, it's only going to make it much harder for him. It's the friction between how public his job is and how public he wants it to be that has most pained him (and others) for the last 15 years.
Van Sickle: How about grading the SBS Championship? Did enough players step forward to make us begin to forget about Tiger? We had Lucas Glover going bonkers, then going south; Rory Sabbatini taking it deep in the final round; and Geoff Ogilvy looking (again) like a contender for the best non-Tiger player in the world. A lot to like this week.
Herre: Quality winner, for sure, but I wonder if anyone but us stayed up to watch? Ogilvy made an interesting point in his post-round interview: He knew what he had to do catch Sabbatini, who had teed off a couple of hours earlier by the time he reached the ninth hole, and he was pleased that he could make the required birdies to do it. Bloodless play on his part.
Shipnuck: Kapalua is one of my favorite venues on Tour. The endless views and spouting whales and surfers how good does that look to a snowy mainland? And the golf is always thrilling. This is such a good way to start the year, and especially this year.