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March 18, 2010

How can you not love the title of Jason Gay’s piece in this week’s Wall Street Journal on Tiger Woods’s decision to return to golf at the coming Masters next month: “The Couch – April Just Got Weirder.” No kidding. Not only did the WSJ pick up this story, above the fold no less, but also USA Today and the New York Times covered it extensively. Their stories were not so much on his decision, but the brilliance of choosing the Masters venue because the tournament organizers are “masters” at keeping people out: loud fans, people of color, oh, and did I mention women. So it is perfect! He can enter the world of golf on his on terms,  tightly controlled and continue down his clueless path when it comes to the discipline of public relations.  Wouldn’t you love to be his partner for that first round, or the advertisers that booked their spots before Woods decided to enter the tournament? Imagine the deals they reaped for 30- and 60-second spots.

Here are a few choice tidbits from Gay:

On his reasoning why now: “‘The Masters is where I won my first major and I view this tournament with great respect,’ Mr. Woods said in an emailed statement surely crafted by 37 handlers, 14 lawyers, nine spiritual gurus, six Navy SEALs, three focus groups and at least one bomb-sniffing dog. ‘After a long and necessary time away from the game, I feel like I’m ready to start my season at Augusta.’

“But Seriously:  Get ready. Even before Mr. Woods decided to do some 2 a.m. vehicular tree-trimming, some golf fans used to groan when he overshadowed the sport. We always found this grievance a little funny—what did people want, a Lucas Glover Channel?—but even when he didn’t play well, Tiger’s TV time often eclipsed the shine given to golf’s khaki-wearing mortals.”

“And now? Now it’s just going to be ridiculous. The other day, Sports Illustrated quoted Sean McManus, president of CBS News and CBS Sports, as saying Mr. Woods’s return would be the “biggest media event other than the Obama inauguration in the past 10 or 15 years.” As a CBS viewer, we found this quote disappointing, as Mr. McManus overlooked Craig Kilborn’s farewell to “The Late Late Show.

“But the message is clear. Tigermania isn’t going to calm soon. One reason Mr. Woods is playing the Masters is because staid Augusta—not exactly Lenny Kravitz’s New Year’s Eve Party—can offer him a tranquil reentry. But that spiffy Masters champion’s jacket only comes in green, not invisible. Sorry, Tiger. It’s going to be a deeply weird spring.”

Maybe he isn’t as clueless about PR as we thought? We’ll see.


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