by Jeff Skinner
Tiger Woods has announced that he will forego his pre-tournament press conference prior to this week’s Well Fargo Championship. Normally Woods is asked to meet with the press before most tournaments but he has elected to try something different this week.
Instead of fielding questions from the accredited media he’ll be answering questions from his fans. The plan is to take questions submitted on Twitter and Facebook and answer them in a video posted on his website. Tiger’s agent, Mark Steinberg said, “We’ve been thinking about this for a couple of months now. We wanted to have a little bit more direct interaction with fans, and they’ve been very good to him over the years. We’re probably a little bit behind with social media and this is a way to do that.”
That’s an admirable thing, wanting to interact with fans, but do they really expect anyone to see it that way. First, we have to understand that Woods is always asked for pre-tournament press conferences and for the most part he accommodates. But he certainly has been repaid for that over the years with the special treatment the PGA Tour and the individual tournaments gave him.
But Steinberg’s declaration that it’s a chance for Woods to interact with fans rings hollow. Woods has ample opportunity to interact at every tournament and chooses not to. He blasts by waiting fans daily, never even acknowledging them. And now he wants to interact? Yes, interact with answers to selective tweets and posts…that’s not interaction, that’s a commercial.
So Tiger gets heat for his club kicking at The Masters, Sean Foley rants that the press is too hard on Tiger and now Steiny says Tiger wants to interact with the fans. Yea right…and I’m a scratch golfer.
Woods and Steinberg just don’t get it. If Tiger really wanted more interaction with fans all he needs to do is stop and sign a few autographs and shake a few hands (see Arnold Palmer and Phil Mickelson). This is a good idea, Woods using social media, and if he had added this initiative in addition to his usual press conference he would have been hailed for taking action for his fans. But no, Team Tiger has shot themselves in the foot.
If Steinberg had added this plan this week and then opted out of a pre-tournament press conference a few weeks from now there would be less fallout. Spin Doctor Steinberg missed it on this one.
This isn’t about more fan interaction. It’s all about payback to the media, the media that wasn’t kind to Woods when he fell from grace. But this is the same media that had finally stopped asking non-golf questions. Does Steinberg understand that Hank Haney isn’t a member of the press that sits there and tries to earn a living by getting bits and scraps from Tigers non-answers? The spin doctor missed it here. And Woods’ tenuous relationship with the press will suffer once again. Maybe that’s just what he wants.