Due to the recent Tiger Woods drama, PGA Tour Confidential is coming out of hibernation for a special edition. Check back regularly, because we will convene the roundtable as the news requires. For an archive of the series, go here.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: You've heard of the Emergency Nine? This is the Emergency Confidential, Tiger edition. We will come together and figure out why Gloria Allred canceled her Rachel Uchitel press conference, how many millions of people have now seen the American Gothic takeoff of a battered Tiger standing beside Elin and what, exactly, it means when Stevie Williams had to pull out of race in New Zealand this weekend because of 'engine trouble.' Let's start with the future. TV ratings basically double when Tiger is playing in a Tour event. What will happen in the future? In a year or two or three, will there still be the Tiger Effect? Will it be greater? Will it be reduced? Weigh in and no sexting!
Jim Herre, managing editor, SI Golf Group: I see the Tiger Effect in full force for his first tournament back. After that, it depends on how Woods performs. If he's winning every time he tees it up, big ratings. If not, I see interest slipping.
Dick Friedman, senior editor, Sports Illustrated: I agree to an extent. Long term, I think it will be hard for anyone to look at Tiger in the same way ever again. However, much depends on the next move by Elin. If she decides to continue with the marriage, and they get counseling, and there's contrition as well as evidence that Tiger has changed his stripes, the Tiger Effect can remain in force. Then, as Jim notes, it will all depend on how he does on the course.
David Dusek, deputy editor, Golf.com: In the immediate future, assuming Tiger makes his return at either Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach (site of the U.S. Open, so not out of the question) or once again at the WGC-Accenture Match Play, it's going to be a circus like golf has never seen before. Ratings for that event will be huge. In the long run, if Tiger wins as he has in previous years, he'll still draw eyeballs to televisions.
Jim Gorant, senior editor, Sports Illustrated Golf Plus: If Kobe Bryant teaches us anything, it's that winning cures many ills. The Tiger Effect may not reach quite as far in the future, but it will still have an impact, especially when/if he begins to approach that 18th major.
Cameron Morfit, senior writer, Golf Magazine: I thought it was interesting that Kobe angrily walked out of a press conference at the first Tiger question, even though he said he knew it was coming. Hey, Kobe, thanks for the perspective!
Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Interest only goes up. Golf fans will always watch Tiger. Now US Weekly subscribers will want to see what the fuss is all about.
Bamberger: A birdie for Alan. This spreads the curiosity to new quarters, even for the least likely of reasons. Will Elin and the kids come running out when Tiger wins No. 15?
Morfit: Probably not if Elin and the kids are living in Sweden.
Herre: The general public will move past this scandal, but I think Woods will have a tougher time winning back the golfy types. What he's done may be equated, by some, to cheating on the course.
Bamberger: I know what you mean, Jim. My own view has been I really don't care about Tiger's private life, but then when he came on as the first speaker in a Tour PSA, about all the good and charitable things the Tour does, I found myself looking at him differently. Others feel something like that?
Morfit: I'm curious to see how crowds react to him, how he responds, whether his press conferences become even more bland. (Is such a thing even possible?) Mostly I want to see if this whole mess is going to affect his golf. In the end I doubt it will. The great ones play through all manner of horrific embarrassments. (See: Michael Jordan's baseball career.)
Dusek: Imagine the number of requests for media credentials at Tiger's first event of 2010. GOLF Magazine, Sports Illustrated, GolfWorld, TMZ, National Enquirer ...
Damon Hack, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I can't help but wonder what it'll mean for Tiger. The most private of private people has had his life laid bare and dissected by everyone from Frank Rich of the New York Times to Lorne Michaels of SNL. At the Jags game today, Tiger was spoofed during a timeout. The organization had a blonde woman with a golf club chasing a tiger mascot with a red shirt and Nike hat. Man.
Morfit: There was also a Prairie Home Companion bit. You know golf has broken out of its niche when it makes it onto that show.
Friedman: Chris Mathews on CNBC's "Hardball" a political show, for heaven's sake! devoted 15 minutes to Tiger the other night!
Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert led their comedy news shows with Tiger the other day. That's mainstream to the max.
Shipnuck: What's interesting is that Tiger has never needed anything from anyone. Beginning with the pleading voicemail he allegedly left for Jaime, that all changed. Now he needs support and forgiveness from the fans and the golf press. Instead of clamming up further, maybe this will free him. Think about A-Rod it was the steroid admission that allowed him to finally display some humanity.
Morfit: That would make this the most brutal silver lining in recent memory.
Friedman: The best outcome for him, public relations-wise, would be a.) if Elin agrees to stay in the marriage and b.) they go on Oprah or 60 Minutes or Barbara Walters together. Then everyone can move on.
Farrell Evans, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Tiger and Elin can't move on from here. The only place they go is to a new reality: One that probably doesn't include her making appearances at golf tournaments. She'll withdraw more if she stays with him.
Morfit: Given what I know about Tiger's busy schedule, I keep wondering, where did he find the time?
Shipnuck: Cam, I think the opposite. You never saw Tiger at tournament events or hanging with other players. We thought he was a prisoner of his fame. Now we know he liked being behind closed doors for other reasons.
Morfit: An interesting question to ponder: Without the tabloids doing their thing, does this story ever see the light of day? I suspect not. The week, especially the positive reaction to Jesper Parnevik's candor, reminded me how much fear there is/was of Tiger and IMG, and how much Tiger and IMG had controlled the message for 13 years. It seems like it took a probable payoff to a source to let it all come spilling out.
Evans: I really believe we'll see great golf from Tiger in 2010. But I also think this whole affair shows that golfers aren't any better than other athletes. Now we can stop all the talk about family values and honesty in our game and let our players be human. If this were any other athlete in any other sport, it wouldn't get this much buzz. But it's golf, the great game of the ethical and polite suburbanite. Tiger, our great crossover hope, fittingly broke more new ground for the game.
Morfit: I agree with that. All that talk about how golf is different because golfers call penalties on themselves ... blah, blah, blah. Give me a break. There's a lot of arrested development on the PGA Tour. Maybe not as much as some other sports, but still plenty.
Rick Lipsey, writer-reporter, Sports Illustrated: Until his sexual exploits hit the press, Wilt Chamberlain was Wilt the basketball player. Now we remember him for his thousands of (self-reported) women, not points. Will Tiger face a similar fate?
Shipnuck: I still think of Wilt as the most dominant center ever. (Sorry, Bill Russell.) Private lives are a footnote.
Friedman: First we remember the 100-point game.
Lipsey: His private life got Tiger on the cover of the NY Post for 10 straight days. Such lives are footnotes no longer.
Shipnuck: At the moment, it's all consuming. In 25 years when he plays his final Masters, there will be plenty of other memories.
Bamberger: Have you all seen the new Golf Digest? It features President Obama lining up a putt, with the help of Tiger who's wearing a caddie bib. I don't get any aspect of that cover, but here's a question for the group: Do you see Tiger ever playing golf with Obama now? Once it was a pairing the USGA dreamed about. Not any more, I'm guessing.
Shipnuck: It'll have to wait for the second term.
Lipsey: Tiger and Clinton would have lots to discuss.....
Lipsey: In six months, will all of Tiger's sponsors still be with him?
Morfit: Gatorade made a pretty tepid statement of support. I wonder what the terms of Tiger's deals are. I suspect most of them can't be 86'd at the drop of a bombshell. Sort of reminds me of the position of Notre Dame with its fired football coach, Charlie Weis, who still has six years left on his contract.
Friedman: Most of those deals would have out clauses relating to morals and embarrassment.
Dusek: But in order to get those clauses to kick in the companies almost always have to go to court and have a judge agree that the behavior qualifies. I'm not saying Tiger's "digressions" don't qualify, but Fortune 500 brands don't want that kind of exposure.
Gorant: I've heard that behind the scenes AT&T is, um, severely displeased. They've got his bag and his tournament.
Van Sickle: Sponsors may not drop Tiger now in a knee-jerk reaction, but I wouldn't be surprised to see a few not renew their deals. Then again, if Tiger knocks off several more majors, they might renew at even bigger price points.