The number of attendees at Tiger Woods’ controversial, coming-clean press conference on Friday morning just got even smaller.
Upset over ground rules that Woods and his handlers created for journalists who were being admitted to the session, the board of the Golf Writers Association of America voted to boycott the event, set for 11 a.m., ET, near PGA Tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
From the outset, Woods sought to keep the number of those in attendance to a handful of around 30, a number that mostly included personal and professional friends or business associates. Three international wire services were invited to cover the session, during which Woods is expected to apologize for his unseemly extra-marital behavior over the past few years.
They represent his first public comments in three months, since before the sex scandal began last Thanksgiving.
Woods is refusing to answer questions, however, and outside of the wire service contingent, had limited the number of other media outlets to three. After the GWAA haggled with his spokesman Thursday to increase that number by another 12, Woods’ camp agreed to double the total number to six.
However, given that the GWAA ultimately felt it was inappropriate for Woods to dictate terms regarding how reporters would be allowed do their jobs – namely, by refusing to field questions – the organization voted to skip the event entirely.
“I cannot stress how strongly our board felt that this should be open to all media and also for the opportunity to question Woods,” said Vartan Kupelian, president of the 950-member group.
“The position, simply put, is all or none. This is a major story of international scope. To limit the ability of journalists to attend, listen, see and question Woods goes against the grain of everything we believe.”
One GWAA board member called it “a clear protest vote.”
It won’t affect much change in the eyes of Woods, presumably, but the organization felt it needed to stand on principle.
The Associated Press, Reuters and Bloomberg News are the wire services invited to attend. Initially, the other trio of media invitees consisted of one writer from a newspaper, Web site and magazine.
Nineteen GWAA board members voted to boycott the event, while four voted to attend and three abstained. In all, 26 of the 27 eligible board members cast votes.
For the record, as a GWAA board member, I voted to boycott the Woods session.