CBSSports.com senior writer Steve Elling and Charlotte Observer columnist and golf writer Ron Green Jr. take a scattershot look at the world of golf, although, realistically, is there really more than one storyline at the moment?
What's your take on the way the PGA Tour has reacted to the Tiger Woods fiasco?
ELLING: Did I miss something? Did the tour react to anything? True, in a laughable moment, the tour issued a short comment regarding Woods' website posting of two weeks ago. In other words, it issued a statement about a statement. In essence, the Ponte Vedra crew has seemed paralyzed by the fear that it might antagonize Woods further. Look, it's no stretch to say that scads of folks at the tour are upset with Woods' antics and the position he has put them in. It would do wonders for what credibility the tour has in the marketplace to stand up and say so. Issuing statements supporting him and his family and urging that they be left alone is a move that's as naïve as it is myopic. The tour employees surely are disappointed. They surely are upset. There's nothing wrong with saying it. This might be the first and only time anybody can say it, but Woods might need the tour worse than it needs him at the moment. Or at least he will when he returns.
GREEN: No question the tour has been low profile in this situation, adding its statements to those made by other companies and sponsors. But if the tour publicly piles on Tiger right now, I don't see how that helps its situation. He's still Tiger Woods, it's still the PGA Tour and they need each other. Privately, the point will be made to Tiger that all that's happened is unacceptable, but clearly he knows that. There have been suggestions made by other news outlets that the tour should suspend Woods for some period of time based on the vague "conduct unbecoming a professional" guidelines. I don't see that happening. At some point, the tour will probably let its disappointment be known. It will be hard to hide it.
The sentiment out there seems to be that Woods needs to clean house if and when he returns. Do you buy it, and is there any chance he'll swap out the surrounding cast that has stood him in such good stead for so long?
ELLING: Those are two very distinct questions. Sure, he could stand to have an entirely different group of satellite sycophants around him, if for no other reason than just clearing the air and starting fresh. But can he afford to ditch his agent, given the complexities of his endorsement deals and the percentage of monies owed to his management agency? Doubtful. Will he boot Steve Williams, his barrel cactus of a caddie? That would be a stunning move since they have been together for just more than a decade. Does he can his publicist or his website writer, too? They surely did nothing wrong. The biggest change needs to be his attitude (more on this at a later date). If he wants to get past this and win the fans back, aloof, suspicious, contrary and evasive won't get the job done anymore.
GREEN: I've heard the argument that Woods needs to get rid of everyone and start over, but I don't think that's going to happen. Without knowing all the details of what's happened in his life -- other than what the various gossip sites have reported -- it sounds as if this is something Woods needs to deal with himself. It's about him, not those around him. It's not their fault, unless somebody very close helped orchestrate all that's reportedly happened. His reputation is taking a sledgehammer hit right now, but if he sorts through this he can eventually regain much of what he's lost in the court of public opinion. He'll never be seen the way he was, but he can win people back. When he comes back, Tiger would be wise to take some time, sign some autographs, pose for photographs and bump a few more fists. It could work wonders.
Not to get all sociological on you guys, but will the Woods affair change the way that golf is covered?
ELLING: That's a deep question at this stage in the game. Does that mean that the game's off-the-course developments will be given as much scrutiny as in other sports? Doubtful, if only for the fact that most PGA Tour players are as exciting as a vanilla wafer and the number of beat writers is painfully small these days. But there's no question that, after the stunning Woods revelations, almost nothing is sacred anymore -- and the players can thank Tiger himself for that. I mean, after weeks of reading about alleged dalliances with porn stars, threesomes, madams, shakedowns and payoffs, nothing is taboo anymore in terms of reportage. No kid under age 10 can read Golf Magazine. I'd have to say that a degree of innocence was lost. Players no longer will be given much benefit of a doubt. If a guy of any prominence screws up, it's going to get covered. New rule: Anybody who gets cited for a traffic ticket of $164 or more is fair game. Kidding. Mostly.
GREEN: After dealing with the sharks that have been chasing Tiger these past few weeks, the notion of explaining a second-round 71 to a group of golf writers probably won't seem so bad to Tiger when he comes back. I don't think this changes golf coverage very much. In a sense, golf is part of the collateral damage here. This hasn't been about the game but about its biggest star. If Tiger were a race car driver of the same magnitude, I don't think it would change the way racing is covered. It probably changes the way Tiger is covered, not so much by the golf media but by the TMZs of the world. He's about to become very familiar with the paparazzi.