SBD/Issue 64/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Tiger On Hiatus: When May Woods Return To PGA Tour Action?

Arnold Palmer Invitational Seen As Possible
Event Tiger May Target For His Return
The odds on a healthy Tiger Woods this coming year missing The Masters, the PGA Tour's first major, normally "would be astronomical," but the circumstances around Woods since his November 27 car accident "have been anything but normal," according to Larry Dorman of the N.Y. TIMES. Woods' announcement on Friday that he is taking an indefinite break from professional golf "will likely shift the focus of speculation from the almost daily updates on his dalliances to what date he will make his return." His recent pattern has been to "begin his United States schedule at the San Diego Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course at the end of January." Woods then normally would play in the WGC-Accenture World Match Play in February, followed by the WGC-CA Championship at Doral and the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, both in March (N.Y. TIMES, 12/12). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's John Paul Newport wrote the "best bet, from a tactical point of view, might be" the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The event takes place in Orlando, "not far from Mr. Woods home, two weeks before the Masters, the year's first major, which he would then also play" (WSJ.com, 12/13). CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS' Ed Sherman predicts it is likely Woods could return at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where Palmer "could help usher Mr. Woods' return to the spotlight." Meanwhile, after Accenture dropped Woods as an endorser yesterday, "you can be sure Mr. Woods has played in his last" Accenture World Match Play event "as long as Accenture remains a sponsor" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 12/14).

MIGHT BE OUT FOR A WHILE: In N.Y., Hank Gola noted if Woods does not return for The Masters, "he will certainly be back for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach" in June (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/12). In West Palm Beach, Andrew Abramson noted Woods can "expect rough treatment from the tabloid British press" if he returns in time for July's British Open at St. Andrews (PALM BEACH POST, 12/13). The AP's Jim Litke wrote if Woods does not play in The Masters, "it becomes possible to imagine him letting the rest of the season go." Woods already has won majors at both Pebble Beach and St. Andrews, so he "might rarely have a better chance at the calendar Grand Slam" (AP, 12/12). ESPN’s Mike Tirico: “Any thoughts as to putting a dartboard on a calendar and try and figure out when that would be would be pure guessing and somewhat irresponsible” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 12/12).

DON'T SHOOT FOR ANOTHER GREEN JACKET: In Augusta, Scott Michaux wrote coming back for The Masters "would be a grave public relations mistake" for Woods. The gesture would "seem hollow if he resurfaced in time to pursue a grand slam," and he instead "makes a statement if you take that entire notion off the table by skipping the Masters and the Players and writing off at least half of the season" (AUGUSTA CHRONICLE, 12/13). In Charlotte, Scott Fowler: "How long is the break? I really hope Tiger doesn't know. If he does -- if he's already penciling himself in for the 2010 Masters in April as usual, for instance -- that's very cynical" (CHARLOTTEOBSERVER.com, 12/11).

Woods Could Become Bigger Target
To Hecklers When He Rejoins Tour
COME BACK WITH CAUTION: ESPN.com's Jason Sobel wrote, "We'd all like to think that crowds at professional tournaments are respectful of the players and wouldn't try to inflict themselves into the competition, but you know there will be some who are so disenfranchised by all this recent news that all it would take is a few of them yelling the names of alleged mistresses in his downswing to severely impede his progress." Woods "certainly won't win back any supporters by continuing the tradition of swearing and club-throwing," so if he is the "least bit worried about keeping folks in his corner, Tiger should wear a perma-smile from first tee to 18th green every round" (ESPN.com, 12/13).

PONDERING A PERMANENT VACATION: In Dallas, Tim Cowlishaw wondered, "What if Tiger Woods never comes back?" It would be an "awful thing for the game of golf and the world of sports." Woods leaving golf "at the prime of his career would be far more damaging to his sport" than Cavaliers F LeBron James leaving the NBA or Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols retiring from MLB. Golf would "be forever tarnished if he walked away from the game" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/12).

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