Commentary

Still waiting for answers from Woods

Originally Published: February 20, 2010
By Jason Sobel | ESPN.com

With his first public words since his life was shrouded in scandal, Tiger Woods issued multiple apologies, explained the reasons for his actions and discussed what his future may hold.

That still left us with many unanswered questions. Here are 10 that have yet to be asked:

• Where was Elin?
Throughout her marriage, Elin Woods has never once granted an interview, never allowed herself to become part of the story. She continued that strategy on Friday, but her absence spoke volumes anyway.

What does it mean? How should we read into it?

In similar situations of disgraced celebrities in the past, many were flanked by a faithful wife, who showed support simply by showing up. By failing to follow these examples, Elin raised more questions about the current state of their marriage and her feelings toward Tiger.

He mentioned her on 10 separate occasions during the speech, each time leading to further questions about why she wasn't present, as well.

• What happened on Nov. 27, 2009?
For nearly three months, rumors have swirled as to what exactly happened when Woods was involved in a single-car accident in front of his home. In his speech, he addressed these rumors -- sort of.

"Some people have speculated that Elin somehow hurt or attacked me on Thanksgiving night," Woods said. "It angers me that people would fabricate a story like that. Elin never hit me that night or any other night. There has never been an episode of domestic violence in our marriage -- ever."

OK, so that's what didn't happen. Fine. But it doesn't answer our question, does it?

• Why the prolonged silence?
Within 48 hours of that post-Thanksgiving accident, public relations professionals from around the globe were offering free advice for Tiger through various media outlets.

The overwhelming message: Start talking. Get in front of the story before it spirals out of control, with gossip and innuendo taking over.

Woods opted to neglect these recommendations, of course, and his image became a PR nightmare. Now we're left to wonder if his public persona wouldn't be as damaged if he had only spoken up right away instead of 10 weeks after the fact.

• How come questions weren't allowed?
Friday's speech lasted just more than 13 minutes and included 1,513 words. When it was over, Woods hugged his mother, Kultida, and a few friends and associates before exiting the room.

Only three journalists from wire services attended the event -- the Golf Writers Association of America voted to decline its three invitations -- but no one from the media was allowed to ask questions.

Sure, the strategy feeds into the notion that Woods and his handlers wanted to control all aspects of the meeting, but if he's prepared to go public and needed to come clean, why not take questions, many of which would have been the ones stated in this story.

• What is his addiction?
Tiger has been receiving help for his "issues," as he referred to them.

"It's hard to admit that I need help, but I do," he said. "For 45 days from the end of December to early February, I was in in-patient therapy receiving guidance for the issues I'm facing. I have a long way to go."

He intimated that he would be leaving for further treatment and therapy on Saturday, but left untouched was what these issues actually are. It's been reported that Woods has been at a sex rehabilitation clinic called Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services in Hattiesburg, Miss. Then again, it's also been reported that he had taken the drugs Vicodin and Ambien in the hours before his accident.

Is there a chance he is receiving treatment for more than one addiction? Tiger only denied using performance-enhancing drugs, but did not touch on these other reports.

• Will there be changes in Team Tiger?
Years ago, Woods fired caddie Mike "Fluff" Cowan because he had become too overexposed, too big for his boss' liking.

Such a transgression appears innocuous compared with the enablers who have surrounded the golfer over the past half-decade. Which confidants knew about his affairs and which didn't? Of those who knew, did any try to convince him to change?

We may never have answers to these questions -- unless Tiger decides to clean house and rid his camp of those who have aided in his lifestyle. And if he doesn't, does that speak more to his loyalty or foolishness?

He shouldn't try to redirect any of the blame in this matter, but it's important that his supporters, well, actually support him right now.

• Why hold the speech at PGA Tour headquarters? Why leak driving range photos?
You may be excused if, in the days leading up to his speech, you believed that Woods' return to the PGA Tour was imminent. How else were we supposed to take the news that his meeting would take place not near his Isleworth home or at Tiger Woods Foundation offices, but in the clubhouse at TPC Sawgrass?

For his part, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem simply said: "We were asked to make the facility available and to help with the logistics. That's what we're doing."

And then there were the photos. On Wednesday, there was one of Woods jogging; one day later, three of him hitting golf balls on a driving range. The statement ostensibly was, "He's back!" Instead, he remains away from the game, leaving each of these decisions as head-scratchers.

• When will he return to competitive golf?
This one is the million-dollar question -- or billion-dollar question, really, if you want to base it on Woods' career on- and off-course earnings.

Rather than issuing a return date, he only maintained: "I do plan to return to golf one day; I just don't know when that day will be. I don't rule out that it will be this year."

That indecisiveness should tell us two things: First, it won't be anytime soon. For those who still believe Tiger will tee it up at Augusta National in hopes of winning a fifth career green jacket, temper your expectations. Secondly, there's a very good chance that even Woods doesn't know when he'll be back.

We can guess, we can speculate, but if he doesn't know, there's no way anyone else knows, either.

• Has he been suspended by the PGA Tour?
Suspensions in golf are more tight-lipped than members of the Skull and Bones society. The PGA Tour does not publicize any sort of player punishments, so unless said player goes public, the rest of us are left in the dark.

There is wording that players can be suspended for "conduct unbecoming" a professional golfer.

Do the actions of Woods -- and the subsequent backlash that they brought to the tour -- fit the bill? If so, it's possible that he could be currently suspended from competing in PGA Tour-sponsored events, which do not include tournaments such as the Masters or Tavistock Cup.

• What would Earl say?
Tiger often referred to his father as his "best friend" prior to his death four years ago. Earl Woods, meanwhile, had lofty goals for what his son would mean to the world.

"He is the Chosen One," Earl once told Sports Illustrated. "He'll have the power to impact nations. Not people. Nations. The world is just getting a taste of his power."

Perhaps Earl would regret labeling Tiger with such entitlement. Maybe Earl would be furious that Tiger used such power to gain selfish pursuits. That's all hypothetical. Really, we'd like to ask Tiger: What do you think your dad would say about everything that has happened?

Like so many other questions, this is one that will remain unanswered for the time being.

Jason Sobel is a golf writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com.

Jason Sobel | email

Golf Editor, ESPN.com
Jason Sobel, who joined ESPN in 1997, earned four Sports Emmy awards as a member of ESPN's Studio Production department. He became ESPN.com's golf editor in July 2004.