PGA Tour Confidential: The Tiger Woods scandal

Tiger Woods. U.S. Open
Simon Bruty/SI
Will fans taunt Tiger Woods when he returns?

Herre: There will be a chilling effect. It will take years for everything to play out, what with Woods's long-term deals, but companies will no doubt re-think their association with him.

Bamberger: We all cover Tiger, in one way or another. How will you cover Tiger differently now, if at all?

Evans: You cover Tiger the same. You take what he gives you. If he shoots 62, you don't go in and say, "Wow, Tiger, I think it's great that you're playing well under so much tumult at home." You don't ask him how Elin and the kids are doing. You don't bark at him about being a cheater.

Morfit: No differently. Still gotta cover the guy through what he does on the course, and what he says in press conferences. Don't think this changes anything. It might make it even tougher. On the other hand, it could go the other way. Tiger may just figure he has nothing to lose now, and begin to loosen up a bit. I'm not holding my breath, but it's theoretically possible.

Lipsey: Definitely have to watch the phrasing of things, because everything now has a double meaning.

Dusek: I will be watching the golf (obviously) and the money. I want to see how Tiger's sponsors choose to associate their brands with him. I also want to see how much the PGA Tour uses Tiger in PSAs, and how aggressively the networks will promote his image when advertising upcoming tournaments.

Van Sickle: Biggest thing I'm curious about is if Tiger now has paparazzi trailing him everywhere — from the hotel to the golf course to his rental home, whatever. He didn't have that before. I wouldn't be surprised if he does now.

Herre: The real eye-opener for me has been how TMZ.com and Radaronline.com have been cited as credible sources by lots of media outlets, even though the websites' sourcing is beyond flimsy. The fact is, we really don't know what's true and what's not. [Correction: The Associated Press has never cited TMZ.com or Radaronline.com as sources in its news stories on Tiger Woods, as was originally stated in this article.]

Evans: There are no facts, really. All we know is that Tiger isn't in control of what's out there. We have some text messages and a voicemail, but we have no bulletproof evidence of Tiger "knowing" any of these women in the Biblical sense. At this point perception is much more powerful than whatever the reality is.

Shipnuck: Farrell, then what are the transgressions he's apologizing for? Missing that putt at the Barclays?

Morfit: Well said. I think we can pretty safely assume infidelity at this point.

Bamberger: I think Farrell makes a good point. What we think we know and what we actually know are two different things.

Gorant: This is why he needs to come clean. I don't know about Barbara Walters or Oprah (too staged), but you have to take control of it. Look at what Letterman did. Everything's going to come out in the end anyway, and the TMZ crowd won't stop 'til they pick every last piece of meat off the bone. You can kill all the rumors and speculation by telling the whole truth. Then, everyone can start to "heal," whatever that means.

Friedman: Jim G., you may be right about Walters or Oprah being too staged. But wherever they go, there has to be some rigor in the questioning. The Gammons-A-Rod interview was all batting-practice softballs, and it was a joke, and it ended up hurting more than it helped. And Letterman doesn't have the same image that Tiger had. (Past tense emphasized.)

Morfit: Whoever does the interview, the first question should be the one Leno asked Hugh Grant: What the hell were you thinking?

Lipsey: Will fans taunt Tiger at Torrey Pines? Or is it totally civil, hushed for Tiger, with every fan thinking about the scandal but saying nothing? Do reporters grill him, or as usual let him off the hook at press conferences?

Friedman: Again, it depends on what transpires in the weeks before he tees off. How much does he take off the table? If nothing is addressed, then there will be large elements of the crowds that will be mercilessly vocal.

Morfit: There will be a lot of fans yelling out what they think are funny comments that will become totally predictable and almost as lame as "You da man!"

Lipsey: Does Steve Williams still have God-blessed authority to rip such fans to pieces?

Evans: My guess is that no one picks on Tiger. He's already had the worst perp walk imaginable: The first time he had to go into the kitchen and tell Elin that she was about to hear some ugly things about her husband.

Friedman: Farrell, that is naive beyond belief! Just go to any game in any sport these days. There will be folks who will be absolutely brutal.

Morfit: Farrell, you badly underestimate the yahoo factor at PGA Tour events.

Dusek: I'm wondering if they will bring signs or t-shirts instead of just calling out to him as he walks down the fairway. After a few beers in the hospitality tent, some fans will let Tiger know he's a punchline.

Evans: I think if people are brutal to Tiger Woods, it hurts the tournament, the sponsors and the players. It won't happen at Augusta, it won't happen at Arnie's place or Jack's place. It won't happen at the Players. Maybe it happens in Milwaukee or Phoenix, where he doesn't play.

Dusek: It will happen at Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach or the Match Play.

Morfit: Augusta is the only place I can think of where snide remarks might not happen — as much.

Anne Szeker, producer, Golf.com: It's a shame the U.S. Open isn't at Bethpage this year. That would have been an interesting crowd encounter.

Dusek: I'll be curious to see what happens at Celtic Manor in the Ryder Cup. Will the lads in Wales have a little fun with Tiger?

Bamberger: Weigh in if you care to: Let's say Elin and Tiger are going to stay together. Let's say Elin believes IMG and Steve Williams must have known SOMETHING about Tiger's activities. Do you think she'd force Tiger to fire them?

Friedman: I could see something like that happening, yes, as a condition of keeping the marriage going.

Shipnuck: Oooh, that's interesting. How can she ever trust any of them again?

Dusek: If they are in counseling, wouldn't a psychologist say that it would be detrimental for Tiger to be continuously associating with people who either allowed, enabled or looked the other way when it came to his previous lifestyle? People in "recovery" shouldn't hang around with the same old crowd, should they?

Herre: That's where this story is headed next. I can't imagine that there won't be accusations, implications and changes.

Shipnuck: And it's not like IMG has done a bang-up job helping Tiger in this crisis.

Dusek: Hard to believe that Team Tiger — famously close-knit and successful for the past 12 seasons — won't be affected somehow by this. Tiger is ultimately responsible for his actions, and he's said as much in his statement, but I think at least one head rolls at some point.

Szeker: If some of his handlers don't get dropped over trust issues, they should be dropped over how poorly this situation was handled, and how quickly it spiraled out of control.

Morfit: Don't know how you can blame IMG and/or Steve Williams. Guilt by association? Might as well blame Y.E. Yang. Surely they spoke about this in the final round of the PGA. That said, it's now a no-win situation for Elin. If more women go public, it only adds to the embarrassment. If no more do, then she has to wonder if more are out there. I guess marriages do survive and people do change, and I guess that's the hope.

Bamberger: I really need help understanding this. Does Tiger have some greater obligation to be faithful to his spouse than anybody else? Why? Because he accepted hundreds of millions of dollars in endorsements? That's what makes the news more surprising, maybe. But does Tiger really have more of an obligation to be faithful in his marriage than anybody else? Why?

Lipsey: He has no more obligation than anybody else. But if he wanted to keep off the NY Post and TMZ, and out of sight as usual, he should have remained faithful.

Dusek: I don't think he has a greater obligation to be faithful, but he has to understand that he will be scrutinized much more closely because he took all that endorsement money. Every day of his life he and other famous athletes and celebrities are judged by the public.

Morfit: Right. He's under no greater obligation, but he is under a greater microscope. And, more important, for 13-15 years he managed to hide almost every personal detail about his life that would have made him more human. I've said it before: This is partly the result of years of pent-up curiosity.

Szeker: No, he doesn't have a greater-than-normal obligation to be faithful. I think he does, however, have an obligation to be open and honest with his fans and supporters when an incident occurs. And to show up to a tournament that he's hosting and his sponsors are supporting.

Morfit: How about that Adam Scott (won Australian Open by five)? How about that Jim Furyk (won Chevron World Challenge)? Does anyone care about actual golf anymore?

Friedman: (Sound of trees falling in forest and no one there to hear them.)

Morfit: Thought so.

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