by Jeff Skinner
As we all continue to digest Tiger’s dueling interviews, one thing is clear: Team Tiger is still trying to control the story. Team Tiger is in full recovery mode now as they try to take as much heat off Tiger before he tees it up at The Masters. The decision to give short, controlled interviews to a few selected outlets looks more like a type of damage control then it does a full, open dialogue between Tiger and the press. Tiger’s people also offered an interview to CBS but they declined because of the time limitations on the questioning. The Golf Channel and ESPN are really entertainment outlets and they chose to go ahead with the interviews with the time restriction.
Tiger did appear to look more like a real person as compared to the robotic, uncomfortable delivery he displayed during his “apology statement” last month. He is still trying to call all the shots here. He answered most questions with the same prepared statements and played the “between Elin and me” card anytime the questions turned to the events of November 27th. It was the intent of Team Tiger to make him look a little better in the public’s eye after these chats. Maybe they succeeded in some respects but the ones who came out looking really good were Kelly Tilghman and Tom Rinaldi.
Tilghman and Rinaldi preformed very admirably in a tough situation. They both knew Woods would stonewall them on the personal questions but they at least tried to get something out of him. With the time limit they had little chance to follow up any of Tiger’s vague responses. Some have said they should have touched on the area of performance enhancing drugs, but with so little time all the questions couldn’t be answered.
Tiger and his team are surely counting Sunday’s interviews as victories for Woods. He got through them unscathed and to most he appeared to be making strides towards his return. But in reality we learned nothing new about Tiger and his last four months. He again displayed his obsessive need to control everything. John Hawkins says Woods hasn’t really taken any steps at all. He’s still the same Tiger. John Feinstein says that Woods followed the classic Ari Fleischer strategy:”say you’re sorry but don’t get into anything too specific.” That’s exactly what Woods did. Feinstein goes on to say “he was still selling himself, that was what this was all about…as far as I could tell he is still the same Tiger Woods he was before November 27th”.
Let’s hope for his sake, for golf’s sake and his family’s sake that Woods has at least changed a little. He’ll only be in for more heartache if he hasn’t.