SBD/April 30, 2012/Media

Tiger To Skip Pre-Tourney Media Session This Week In Favor Of Social Media Q&A With Fans

Woods will answer selected questions from fans via Twitter and Facebook
Tiger Woods will participate in this week's Wells Fargo Championship, his first tournament since The Masters, and he is “expected to post a video on his website on Monday in which he will answer selected fan questions submitted through Facebook and Twitter,” according to Bob Harig of ESPN.com. Excel Sports Management's Mark Steinberg, who reps Woods, said that his client “will not do a pre-tournament interview session with media members.” Steinberg: "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." Steinberg added that post-round access "would not change, and he stressed that this pre-tournament arrangement would only occur ‘a handful of times’ during the year.” Harig noted Woods likely "would continue to do interviews before major championships, events where he is the defending champion and selected tournaments, possibly including the Players Championship in two weeks.” Steinberg: "It's just a chance to have him interact more with fans." Steinberg also said that “this was not in response to any negative media reaction stemming from the Masters.” Steinberg: "Absolutely not. This will just be a few tournaments a year" (ESPN.com, 4/28). More Steinberg: "The media will continue to have access to him. This isn't anything more than a couple of times a year to interact with the fans. They deserve that. This isn't intended to make a statement. This is intended to be more inclusive. This isn't a statement whatsoever. Some in the media might interpret it that way but that's not the intent" (CHARLOTTE.com, 4/27). However, GOLF WORLD's Geoff Shackelford notes what is being "left unsaid is the current view in the Woods camp ... that the media has recently been less than good." Shackelford: "The clear implication is that Woods will try to further control his message by avoiding the interview process, which involves follow-up questions and produces more material for journalists to interpret" (GOLF WORLD MONDAY, 4/30).
 
THE WRONG MOVE: Woods' online Q&A was a topic during GOLF.com's weekly roundtable discussion, and SI Senior Editor Mark Godich said, “If he thinks this is a way to connect with the fans, he's badly mistaken. Take those questions in a live setting. That would show me something.” SI’s Alan Shipnuck said, “It's cool he's doing a Q&A with fans. But that doesn't mean he can't also do a pre-tournament thing with reporters. It's silly to think it has to be one or the other.” SI’s Rick Lipsey: “Amazing, years into the rehabilitation of his image, that TW keeps finding new ways to alienate others and do the wrong thing. How will the tournament sponsors feel when Woods doesn't do the pre-event media interview? Like their millions in sponsorship have been wasted. Gosh TW, wake up! ... I'm shocked that Wells Fargo hasn't demanded Woods's presence and that PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem hasn't intervened at Wells Fargo's request.” SI Group Managing Editor Jim Herre: “As usual, Woods is only thinking of himself.” SI's Gary Van Sickle: “Tiger has figured out a way, he thinks, to circumvent the press. Plus, he gets to control which questions he answers” (GOLF.com, 4/29). GOLFCHANNEL.com’s Rex Hoggard wrote while the move “will allow Woods to avoid uncomfortable questions,” it also will “vastly limit the scope of his media exposure.” GOLFCHANNEL.com’s Randall Mell wrote, “It is about time Tiger Woods takes control of the message. ... Tiger knows the final word is good when you control the final word. Well, it’s good for the player, if not the sport” (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 4/28). Golf Channel's Erik Kuselias said, “If you're going to do this in addition to your obligation of your duties to the media, I think that's great. If you do it instead of taking questions from professionals and people whose job is it to write about this sport and follow this circus every week, then it seems to me more like you're trying to control information." Kuselias: "He's only going to put the questions up he's going to take and those are the only ones he’s going to want to answer. It seems a little weak to me" ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 4/30).

DIFFERENT GAME NOWADAYS
: Golf journalist Dan Jenkins, who will be inducted into the World Golf HOF on May 7, said that a big difference in covering the game now is the “access to players.” Jenkins: “They don’t need us lowly golf writers any more. They’ve got TV, and agents and gurus and all. But back then they liked us. They actually wanted us in the locker rooms. We made friends, we were convivial, we went out to eat and drink together. That’s all been lost” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/29).
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