Commentary

Tiger interview won't appease everyone

Originally Published: March 21, 2010
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- Golf did not figure to be a big part of the conversation, but it is fitting that a quick mention of his return to the game brought a sly smile and a brief bit of laughter from Tiger Woods.

It is between the ropes and along the fairways where Woods will do his best rehabilitative work.

A five-minute television interview is not going to accomplish that goal.

For the first time since a sex scandal shattered his image and put his thriving golf career on hold, Woods granted two television interviews on Sunday, one to ESPN and the other to the Golf Channel.

The ESPN interview lasted a little more than five minutes and entailed 19 questions -- or more than one for every week that has passed since Woods' ordeal began Nov. 27 with a one-car crash near his Orlando home.

And it won't come close to satisfying those who believe Woods needs to endure a full-blown news conference where he takes questions from all manner of accredited media.

For all the time that has passed since the accident that sent him into hiding -- just more than 16 weeks, or 114 days if you are keeping track -- there are plenty who want to see him squirm under the bright lights, with questions fired from all corners of the room.

Let's face it, Woods isn't going to show up at Augusta National and face questions only about birdies and bogeys, azaleas and dogwoods, right?

Woods would probably rather three-putt the 72nd hole to lose a major championship than face an interview room full of inquisitors, but dealing with the uncomfortable questions -- as he should have done much sooner -- is far better than the alternative of being hounded from Augusta to Charlotte to Ponte Vedra to Pebble Beach.

Sunday's interviews -- while admittedly a start -- are but water torture, with information dripping out. Woods put no restrictions on the questions, but a 300-second sit down doesn't exactly quench your thirst, either.

It took Woods nearly three months to say anything publicly, and another month to submit to questions -- with a 5-minute time limit to two broadcast outlets.

This came five days after he released a statement saying he would make his return to competitive golf at the Masters, and 30 days after a worldwide audience watched him give a 13½-minute speech at PGA Tour headquarters, after which he took no questions.

And the interviews aired at the same time, pushed back as the final round of the Transitions Championship was delayed by bad weather. Surely that was done to avoid any charges of upstaging the tournament -- even though that is exactly what happened, as winner Jim Furyk was relegated to an afterthought.

Despite its brevity, a good bit of ground was covered in the ESPN interview.

"I've had a lot of low points," Woods said. "Just when I didn't think it could get any lower, it got lower."

Asked for an example, Woods said, "When I was in treatment, out of treatment, before I went in, there were so many different low points … people I had to talk to and face, like my wife [Elin], my mom [Kultida]."

Asked what that moment was like, Woods said: "They've both been brutal. They've both been very tough. Because I hurt them the most. Those are the two people in my life who I'm closest to and to say the things that I've done, truthfully to them, is … honestly … was … very painful."

Woods would not answer questions about the accident, saying that anything beyond the public record was private and between him and his wife.

But when asked to describe the depth of his infidelity, Woods said, "Well, just one is enough. And obviously that wasn't the case, and I've made my mistakes."

Likely due to the time limitation of the interview, Woods was not asked about his relationship with a Canadian doctor, Anthony Galea, who treated his surgically repaired knee but has been linked to other athletes who have taken performance-enhancing drugs.

Woods vehemently denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs when he spoke Feb. 19 in Florida, but he said nothing about Galea.

Of course, no matter how many questions he answers or how long it takes, Woods will never be able to satisfy everyone.

If he grants five television interviews, why not 10? If he gives a 30-minute news conference, why not 60 minutes?

But he would have a very defensible position if he decided to take questions in a full-fledged news conference. He has every right to declare certain subjects off-limits or personal -- as he did several times Sunday -- and then say he will not discuss the issue again.

Woods said that he is "excited" to get back to playing and that he is "nervous" about the reception he will receive from fans.

That, along with dealing with a healthy dose of questions, should all be part of the ongoing process.

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com