Who knows when Tiger Woods will return to the PGA Tour. Some say at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando. Others say at the Masters in Augusta. And still others think he might never return.
I’m going on the assumption that Woods will return sometime in 2010, perhaps at a low profile tournament and not a major.
When Tiger returns, get ready for a zoo.
The public’s fascination with the Woods debacle will only escalate on his first tournament back. I don’t care how much time has passed. Instead of a few golf writers content on receiving some stale quotes from Woods, the media tent will be overflowing with TMZ, Radaronline, Star Magazine and National Enquirer types who will follow Tiger’s every move. Golf has never seen anything like this. In fact, sites like TMZ and Radaronline are experiencing “hits” like never before. If you think they’re going to back off this one you’re crazy.
Up until Tiger’s SUV ran over that fire hydrant, Woods had it made with the media. He did obligatory pool interviews after tournaments and the occasional pre-tournament group interview as the returning champion as well as a few short TV shots. As a golf writer, if you crossed Woods then you typically got less access. That’s the way the system worked with the world’s No. 1 ranked golfer.
All bets are off now with the swarm of paparazzi, celebrity magazines and TV shows and gossip websites leaching onto the Tiger Woods story with no sign they will leave quickly. To them, Tiger is their Princess Di or Michael Jackson. A global icon that is instantly recognizable anywhere on the planet.
When Woods returns, other PGA Tour players better get ready for microphones jammed in their mugs for reactions to Tiger, his misdeeds and how they think he will fare in upcoming tournaments. You’re going to hear lots of “no comments” with the exception of maybe a few like Jesper Parnevick and Colin Montgomerie who don’t seem to be too afraid of Tiger or his entourage.
The crowd at his first tournament, I predict, will be peppered with all sorts of publicity seeking cocktail waitress types seeking 15 minutes of fame or beered up fans barking out vulgarities to Woods.
In a crazy, "crane your neck at the train wreck" sort of way, I’m looking forward to Tiger’s return.
After all, everyone loves going to the zoo, right?