The day after last Thanksgiving, Tiger Woods’ finely manicured life began to fall apart with an auto accident outside his Florida home. The day after Easter, he will take his first halting steps towards regaining that life. Next Monday, Woods will face the media for the first time in a press conference in Augusta, Georgia, in advance of his participation in The Masters, his first event of the 2010 season.
It’s been a long, hard road for Woods since that holiday crash. Rumors of infidelity turned to fact as at least a dozen women stepped forward to say they’d been a Woods mistress. The golfer made several ill-advised attempts to control the situation before heading off to rehab (side note – ever notice how it’s only after the public catches a celebrity in the act that they enter rehab? Just once, I’d like to be caught off guard by the announcement …), but web site notices and stiff public statements did little to help. By most accounts, Woods has lost tens of millions of dollars in endorsement money because of his inability to keep it zipped.
The Monday news conference will be the first time Woods has stepped into the media glare with no preconditions. No “statement but no questions”, no “five minutes only”. Just Woods and the media, albeit in the admittedly cloistered Augusta National environment. But it is the first chance most people will have to see the real Woods, post-rehab and post-embarassment. As such, I have a few pieces of advice for Tiger.
- Be humble. Remember, you got yourself into this mess, and this is your first chance to start digging yourself out of the hole (or 12) you created for yourself. Step up to the mike, look at the assembled crowd , clear your throat and say, “My name is Tiger Woods, and I’m here to answer your questions. Who’s first?”
- Be honest. Jim Rome has a hilarious clip of Tiger quotes strung together to sound robotic: “My… game … is … awesome. The … course … is … awesome. I … like … my … chances.” The only reason it’s so funny is that it’s so true – and today represents your first opportunity to change that. The genie’s out of the bottle and can’t go back – the old Tiger Woods died in the car crash. But a new Tiger can emerge from the wreckage – looser, funnier, perhaps a little more respectful of the game. Don’t try to reclaim the cool, robotic Tiger – become a new, open, honest Tiger.
- Be patient. You are going to hear a lot of personal, probing, embarassing questions – and hear them over and over. You will be tempted to shut things down the first time you hear someone ask for details about the affairs, but don’t. The press may be a pain in your ass – particularly today – but remember, without the press there never would have been the millions in endorsement money in the first place. They made Tiger Woods, and they can break you as well. That said, you are under no obligation to turn this into the set of Oprah; state upfront that you won’t be answering any questions regarding the affairs, and when someone asks, simply smile and say “next”.
- Be real. Look, you frakked up – there’s no sugar-coating that. But you’re not the first, nor will you be the last. Answer the questions to the best of your ability and let the people see you for who you are – a flawed human being doing the best you can to be better, and a golfer ready to kick ass from the very first tee.
Personally, I … like … his … chances …