Tiger Woods Press Conference: What did you think?

Paul Farhi, Liz Kelly, Sally Jenkins and Josh Levin
Friday, February 19, 2010; 11:25 AM

Tiger Woods is scheduled to make his first public statement since being rocked by scandal today at 11 a.m. ET from TPC Sawgrass golf course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Join the Post's Paul Farhi, who has been on the Tiger Woods beat since Nov., and Celebritology blogger Liz Kelly as they live blog Woods's announcement. They'll be getting started around 10:45 a.m. ET and will be here throughout the event.

Then come back here after the conference as Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins and Slate sports editor Josh Levin join them to take your questions and comments about the golfer's mea culpa.


Paul Farhi: Hi, everyone. And welcome to the, uh, post-game show. So, insta-reaction please? What did we think of Tiger's statement? Let's open the phones, as they say...


Durham, NC: He is a bad actor in every sense of the term. Whoever wrote this for him should have hired a better spokesmodel.

Paul Farhi: Hmm. I thought he SOUNDED sincere. Different, I guess, from BEING sincere.


Scottsdale, AZ: He's not a very good actor. He is not sincere. He is very, very sick, let this be a lesson to all Little League parents...you're children are watching you and are imprinted by you.

Paul Farhi: Forgive? Forget? Not you, I guess.


New York: Worked for me, can we move on people?

Paul Farhi: That's exactly what Tiger and his camp would like you to say.


Palo Alto, CA: People who expend a lot of time thinking about Mr Woods are either financially invested in him or are wasting their little grey cells on trivial matters.

Liz Kelly: Or are required to cover Tiger for, you know, their paper and blog.


Tiger Inc. needs to become profitable again.: Pardon the early submission, but this seems to be all about getting sponsors back. Just like Mr. Toyota, the CEO is going on TV to save the brand. The message is "Please love me like you used to".

I apologize for my inability to be more charitable.

Paul Farhi: Tiger's got plenty of money. Not sure he needs any more, or cares about it all that much (just a guess; I could be very wrong). But I DO think he wants to pass Nicklaus in major wins, and that's what's motivating him. So, he's got to put this whole mess behind him, so he can get back on the course and start winning again. Oh, and maybe he actually does care about his marriage and children, too.


Reston, Virginia: Well, at least he got some exercise. Can't get that with golf.

Liz Kelly: Oh come on. He's hardly Kevin Smith.


Charlotte, NC: My favorite line was "I did not use performance enhancing drugs."

Liz Kelly: Really? I was partial to the whole Buddhism commentary. Totally random.


Oak Park MI: Isn't it utter hypocrisy to well keep going after Tiger, when Hugh Hefner is celebrated for his life style on TV etc.

Paul Farhi: Unfair comparison. Hefner has spent the past 50 years openly celebrating his "lifestyle." Tiger had a very different image--squeaky clean family man. The revelations about him were completely counter to that image. Hence, the media frenzy.


Alexandria, V.A.: Am I really sitting at work watching this??

Liz Kelly: Yes, yes you are. And now you're chatting about it.

It's okay. It's Friday.


Annapolis, Md.: I believed him; I think he truly is sorry for his inane behavior and will turn his life around. Good for him for getting the help and therapy he needs to do this.

Paul Farhi: You know why I believe him? Because he's gotten a taste of the consequences of his actions--losing his family, screwing up his golf career, alienating his sponsors. He'll be a good boy...at least until his golf career is over.


Boston: I'd say the Buddhism comments were directed at that Fox News commentator that said Tiger should convert to Christianity in order to be forgiven and saved.

Paul Farhi: Interesting take, Boston. Those comments were from Brit Hume. I felt the Buddhism reference was a little awkward, but it probably gained him from sympathy from any person of faith.


Washington, DC: I have never seen an apology that felt more fake in my life. He didn't mention his wife until after he talked about his friends, and the he throws in his work with disadvantaged children? Hugh? It just felt so fake and contrived that it did more harm than good.

Josh Levin: The part about his work with disadvantaged children did feel very self-serving. I'm a terrible person, and I've let down all of the MILLIONS OF POOR, NEEDY CHILDREN who I've helped over my long, generous career.

Sally Jenkins: I would second that. What a howler. Woods still shows no sign of recognizing that he is the one who sicced the tabloid paparazzi on his wife and child.


Washington, D.C.: Not sure why Tiger owed me an apology. He didn't cheat on me.

Paul Farhi: Fair point, D.C. But he did need to apologize, if only to clear the decks with sponsors, and to return to golf without all the negative hoopla. So,in essence, it wasn't really an apology to you or me.


Durham, NC: The Buddhism part? That was laugh out loud funny. Liz nailed it.

This whole charade was a cynical infomercial from TW world hq. I found it insulting.

Liz Kelly: Not to jump to Tiger's defense, but I'm not sure there was a more elegant way to get his apology out there. And coming off with an "infomercial" feel is -- for Tiger and his PR team -- still preferable to potentially facing hard questions in a traditional press conference.


Paris, France: Am I the only one who thinks that Tiger was greedy?

These guys know that they could have lots of women if they stay single. If they get married, no one expects all of them to be perfectly loyal all the time.

To me, Tiger thought that he had control over everything. He thought he could have the championships, the adulation of the public, the beautiful wife and kids AND all the mistresses he wanted. He thought that he deserved it all and cause he felt so superior, that he could get away with it.

My take on it, is that when he comes back, he'll no longer have that superiority over all the other golfers. He'll probably still be really good but probably Mickelson-type good.

Sally Jenkins: Thanks for that theory. Superiority certainly seems to have been part of Woods' makeup up, and so does superficiality, I would add. Whether he can regain his superiority is an interesting question. But I would suggest that even before the scandal, his superiority on the golf course had slipped a bit, for whatever reason. His knee injury had something to do with it, of course...I think that we can't forget he was raised as a child prodigy, and followed a very specific and strict blueprint for golf stardom. My own personal theory is that he's in the midst of an epic adolescent rebellion against his upbringing. I am continually struck -- and have been for years -- by just how much he HATES public life. He exudes resentment for the galleries, and for the press. Which is a very tense state to live in.

Josh Levin: Agree with all of Sally's comments, though his remarks today about Buddhism seem to represent a return to his upbringing. Not to get too psychologist-y here, but I'm guessing that Tiger's mom is the only person in the world that loves him unconditionally right now, so it makes sense for him to draw closer to her.


O, the humanity!: Won't somebody think of the children!?!

Whoever in his PR firm wrote that for him certainly hit all the cliches. I think the only one they forgot was to have Tiger cuddle a puppy afterwards, a puppy that he saved from a storm sewer.

I don't believe a word of it. But it was certainly well-crafted.

Josh Levin: To all the puppies that looked up to him, he's very sorry.

Liz Kelly: Did anyone else think it was a bit crass to include Accenture in his apologies? I mean, he may as well have said "This public apology brought to you by Accenture, who I hope one day will resume sending me hefty checks."


No win: He was in a no win situation. There was nothing he could say that would make everyone react with, "Oh OK, glad that's settled. Let's move on". I think he sounded sincere. I don't understand all the immediate comments about "he's a bad actor, he's not sorry, etc" -- he admits to having a problem and is getting help. Is that not the best we can expect of someone with a problem? He messed up and he can't change the past but to many that seems to be the only acceptable path.

Josh Levin: I agree with this sentiment. I think it's fair to parse the contents of his statement, even if he probably didn't write it. (But which public figures right their own speeches anyway?) It seems less fair to grade him on technical and artistic merit.

Liz Kelly: I want to agree, but... performance is exactly what we were grading him on today -- his ability to appear sincere. If actually seeing the man say these things with our own eyes wasn't an important step in his image rehab tour, Tiger could've just stuck to the Web site published statements.


Seattle, WA: Just a little Fantasy about what I think Tiger should say,

"For years, companies like Accenture have made me fashion an image of sweetness and purity and all that. Well, I am not that. For years I have really been a golfer who swears on the course by day, and who is a complete hound dog at night. I have decided to embrace my true self and show the world who I really am. So Let me announce that mt new Sponsors on the tour will be Trojan Condoms, Viagra, and Axe Body Spray. Take me as I am!"

Liz Kelly: Now that would have been news.


For Sally: Didn't your Dad once write of Tiger that the only things that could stop Tiger from becoming the greatest golfer of all time would be a bad back or a bad marriage.

Will this have an effect on his golf ?

Sally Jenkins: Yes, my Dad, the legendary golf writer Dan Jenkins, said and wrote that very famously a few years back. He was joking of course. But my father always writes things satirically that then come true. It's his special gift. We're thinking of sending him to clairvoyant school.


Shreveport, Louisiana: "Come to Buddha!"

These sorts of press conferences always seem to eventually get the point where they repent their sins to Jesus. I was SO EXCITED to see a sports star repent to another diety. This was worth watching live just for THAT!

Josh Levin: Agreed, never seen a born-again Buddhist before.


Please tell us: what he said about Buddhism? I'm really curious, and I couldn't watch the press conference. Thanks!

Liz Kelly: He talked about how his mother introduced Buddhism to him at a young age.

Here's a portion of the statement:

"It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint. Obviously, I lost track of what I was taught. As I move forward, I will continue to receive help."

I'm guessing this doesn't mean he'll be swearing off Nike for a saffron robe anytime soon, tho.


Baltimore: So when will Tiger begin answering actual questions?

Sally Jenkins: Ha. My guess is, never. He's gone this far without ever answering a question of substance, why should he start now? Especially when so much of the golf press is so compliant? For instance, at this very moment several announcers on the Golf Network are slobbering over him and calling this strange, stilted performance sincere and honest.

Liz Kelly: But what do we want him to answer, really? He's admitted to cheating on his wife, he denied using performance enhancing drugs, he said he'll be back on the golf course at some time yet TBD.

As some readers have pointed out, the lurid details may be more a matter for Tiger and Elin to come to grips with. As for the rest of us, well, we may have to just deal with never having an exact mistress count.

Paul Farhi: I'm with Sally. That's the last we'll ever hear about this. The whole stage-managing of this "event" tells you that.

Josh Levin: Like A-Rod before him, Tiger has now become fodder for the tabloids for the rest of his life. No matter if he wants to answer anything, he's going to have photographers trailing him and question shouted at him forever and ever. It might make his life easier to answer one or two of them at some point.


Seattle: If I had been in that room, "Animal House" coughs would have been the order of the day.

Sally Jenkins: I'm with you. Cough-cough.

Paul Farhi: Dean Wormser would put Tiger on double secret probation.


washingtonpost.com: Video: Tiger Woods: 'I am truly sorry'


estes park , co.: I think Tiger did well today. What else could he say ?

He was sincere and sorry and he looks really sad about the whole mess that he created.

His pr folks did a pretty good job considering all that Tiger did and the fact he is a little wooden ( ha ha ).

Lets move on..

Paul Farhi: Don't you think this would have looked better if Elin had been in the audience? Where was she and what does it say that she wasn't there.

Sally Jenkins: Well, he could have said something spontaneous, and unscripted. Just a suggestion.


Greensboro,N.C.: Using disadvantaged kids in his remarks shows this is not a statement of the heart, but one written by a P.R. flack.It's as bad as Rick Pitino using 9/11 and Teddy Kennedy in his mea culpa. Plus, he did not man up and answer questions.Don't you think like the rest, he is just sorry he got caught.Otherwise, this would still be going on? Thanks

Paul Farhi: He SHOULD have taken questions. Not because he wants to answer them, or would give sincere answers, but because it would add to the illusion that he has nothing to hide.

Josh Levin: But the illusion that he has nothing to hide would've been shattered as soon as he evaded the first question.

"So, Tiger was it 14 women? Fifteen?"

"Uh, did I mention that I have a foundation?"


I'm one who thought no apology was necessary: but I thought he sounded sincere, and I like that he apologized to the parents who told their kids he was a good role model.

Through all this I've thought Tiger has some really deep repressed issues that he needs to work on. He's always seemed to me to have a very controlled exterior with a lot of anger boiling underneath. Ready to pop. Maybe the girlfriends are how he blew off some of that steam.

Sally Jenkins: Yes, Woods has always simmered and boiled-- that aspect of him is especially obvious when you watch him up close on the course. But I totally disagree about his sincerity level in today's performance. The needle on the baloney meter was jumping off the dial.


Who Cares: Most of the world could care less. We have other things to occupy our minds and our time. Like how to live day to day with less money and higher prices or taking care of family members who are dying of cancer. Or finding a decent job in this economy. Leave Tiger alone and let him do what he wants to do b/c I for one could care less.

Josh Levin: Before Tiger went on the air, ESPN golf guy Andy North said he couldn't understand all the attention on today's presser considering a guy had just flown a plane a plane into a Texas IRS building. At that point, ESPN execs said, "You know what, you have a point" and fired Andy North.


Silver Spring, MD: How exactly does his semi-devout Buddhism go with the large sums of money he got from Nike and Accenture? At this point he probably should be using that to build the worlds largest buddhist temple, no?

Sally Jenkins: Tiger Woods the devout Buddhist??? I'm just thinking about how many bugs he has killed over the years by hurling his clubs.


Silver Spring, MD: I think that Tiger was sincere in avoiding a commitment about the date he would return to golf competition. If he really means what he says about working on his own personal problems and on saving his marriage, I would be surprised to see him return to golf this year, certainly not in the Masters. But who knows?

Josh Levin: I think if he's sincere about saving his marriage, he will return to competition on July 22 at the RBC Canadian Open.


Vienna, VA: Amazing to me to see Tiger, the man who bows to nobody, who intimidates his competitors and dominates them emotionally.... so humbled and nervous.

My intuition is that the same intense, self-centered focus that made him an admired sportsman and winner... fed his lust off the course.

And to see the guy be so removed from his usual psychological zen... shows me he'll back up what he said.

Sally Jenkins: He didn't seem nervous. He seemed rehearsed within an inch of his life, right down to the eye contact with the camera at set choreographed points in the statement, and the little sniffle at the end. It was the worst acting performance of the year, bar none.


Pittsburgh, PA: His intent might have been meant to be an apology...or not. It seemed to be a reprimand to the press for pursuing the story instead.

Paul Farhi: I want to think beating on the press is a bad idea. But it probably isn't. Who, besides those who work for the press, really likes the press? We're an easy target.

Josh Levin: I think beating on the press is a bad idea only in so far as it made him come off as self-righteous.


Bethesda, MD: He may have slipped a bit on the golf course, but he still won 6 times last year and only played half the events. He will still win and dominate when he comes back because he is the best putter of all time. As for the conference, seemed like step 10 of a 12 step program. Make direct amends and move on to the next step. I don't care. Just get back on the course.

Josh Levin: One thing that I think is being way overplayed is the question of whether potential on-course heckling will throw him off his game. I've only seen Tiger play live once, but what struck me the most was that EVERYONE in the entire place was staring at him the entire time. This is a man who has a freakish ability to tune out his surroundings.

Paul Farhi: I think he does need to put this behind him, if only to help his golf career. Does he want everyone harrassing about this forever? He's amazingly focused, of course, but he's also human. This would forever hound him.


Out of the Woodwork?: Now that Tiger's made an apology, do you think even more women will be making statements about what Tiger's done to cash in while the iron's hot? (No pun intended).

Liz Kelly: I'm already frantically watching TMZ, Radar and a few other sites waiting for reax from "the women." Nothing yet, but stay tuned...


Atlanta, Ga.: SNL is going to have a field day with this! I can't wait.

Paul Farhi: You got that right! But given Tiger's repeated denials of domestic violence, don't you think SNL's skit with "Tiger" being beaten by "Elin" was a little irresponsible? It seemed to confirm something that is probably not true.

Paul Farhi: (Just fyi, the skit ran back in Dec. with Kenan as Tiger and Blake Lively as Elin).

Liz Kelly: I wasn't wild about that skit -- not because it was irresponsible (which it was), but because it just wasn't funny. But decide for yourselves:


Frederick MD: Dontcha think this is just part of the therapy process? I find many of your reactions to be too cynical for my taste. He came across as someone totally unhinged.

Liz Kelly: A reader said something similar in my Thursday chat -- suggesting Tiger's statement was required as part of his 12-step program. I'll repeat what I said:

No matter how noble that idea may be and how healing making amends might be for Tiger, this "event" was orchestrated to nudge him back on to his career path. Every second of that statement was calculated. I don't doubt that Tiger is truly remorseful, but I don't necessarily think that remorse is motivated by concerns about his morality or what he's done to his family. He's sorry he jeopardized his money-making machine and now he's trying to get it back.

Sally Jenkins: I agree with Liz, though I think it's less about his corporate comeback than his golf comeback. He had to make a public appearance to deal with this before he plays again. My guess is in the next month, the second chess move will come: a press release announcing which event he will enter. And then we will hear that he is entering the Masters.

Josh Levin: It did surprise me that he didn't say when he's coming back to golf. Announcing a date, I think, would have deflated the balloon a tiny bit and ended some of the speculation about his plans. By choosing to leave people adrift on that point, he's not doing much to deflect the media's attention.


Orlando, FL: Woods performance earlier today can only be evaluated in the future and how he acts and behaves. No rush to judgment ought to be made.

Josh Levin: Are you Elin Nordegren?

Paul Farhi: Yes, proof-pudding and all that. It would be nice for his image if he wasn't sleeping with any more cocktail waitresses. But, for cynical symbolism purposes, if nothing else, he ought to have a few thousand more photo ops with Elin and the kids.


Josh Levin: Signing off now. Hope you all have a happy, healthy Tiger Apology Day.


Silver Spring, MD: What does he need the sponsors for? Why couldn't he just return to the PGA tour without sporting any logos? Don't do commercials, just play golf.

Sally Jenkins: I would not be surprised to see something along these lines. Woods cares about golf, not the money. Sponsorships to him only mean more obligations, more public appearances, that he chafes at. My guess is that when he comes back, he will by choice be a lot less beholden to the corporate world.

Josh Levin: That's an interesting take, Sally. But he seems to have collected sponsors over the years in the same way he collected trophies. If he hates sponsorships, he's had a funny way of showing it. But maybe he did see them as necessary accoutrements of success -- part of the phony image that he needed to maintain in order to be viewed as a great champion.

Sally Jenkins: The corporate package was all part of a long term plan built by Earl Woods and IMG, and which was really thrust on Tiger, and which he accepted as part of becoming the Greatest Player Ever. While I think Woods enjoyed moving in mighty corporate circles, I think he obviously chafed at some of the obligations.


Kingston, Canada: What would each of you like him to say?

Sally Jenkins: Anything natural and unpremeditated. Or, if he can't muster that, anything that wasn't written by a media crisis manager. I guarantee you, there are 50 rehearsal tapes for this performance.

Paul Farhi: And take some darn questions! If you've got nothing to hide, then don't hide. Fact is, he's got plenty to hide and he'd rather not get into all that.

Liz Kelly: I'm with Sally. I would've liked to see him take the mic without a script. Not that what he did today was easy, but it totally suffered from appearing rehearsed. Do you really need talking points to remind you to say "I goofed. I'm sorry?"


Arlington, Va.: I don't understand the timing of this conference. There's no reason for him to apologize now. He could have given his apology earlier. He's taking coverage away from the Olympics and the PGA.

Paul Farhi: I understand it: He wants to play in some no-account PGA tourney to tune up for the Masters. Sally?

Sally Jenkins: The Masters. Or the U.S. Open. If he's going to catch Jack Nicklaus, this is a very big season for him. And don't think for a second he hasn't been thinking about those last four majors he needs to tie Jack.


Falls Church, VA: Why does Sally Jenkins hate Tiger? Some of us think he's a human being who made a mistake and we're ok with moving on from that.

Sally Jenkins: I don't hate Tiger at all. I found him very pleasant to talk to off the course. What I don't care for at all is the way he and his handlers have phonied him up for public consumption. I just don't care to peddle a fiction to readers. I do devoutly hope he recovers himself and his career, and I love watching greatness on the golf course.


State College, PA: Sally Jenkins sez: "For instance, at this very moment several announcers on the Golf Network are slobbering over him and calling this strange, stilted performance sincere and honest."

Well, Tiger Woods seems to be a strange, stilted person so it's probably the best he could do. His pacing throughout the speech seemed off. Agree it seemed very well rehearsed, and the sniffle at the end just made me laugh.

Sally Jenkins: Point taken. Thanks for the observations.


Richmond, VA: So many strangely appropriate Animal House lines come to mind: "Knowledge is Good", "That boy is a P-I-G pig", and just about everything said at the Dexter Lake Club House.

Liz Kelly: Clearly I need to watch "Animal House" again. Can we switch to "Airplane" references?

Stop calling me Shirley.

Sally Jenkins: How about Caddyshack?


Gainesville FL: I think Tiger will answer the questions some day 30 years from now when he does an interview with a then 109 year old Barbara Walters.

Josh Levin: I doubt it. If Tiger writes an autobiography it'll be called "Closed."


Alexandria: Who were the people he hugged in the audience? The men - friends? Mom? MIL?

Sally Jenkins: Most of them appeared to be employees or staff, apart from his mother and his college friend and fellow player Notah Begay.


Warrenton, VA: Well done, Tiger. Very contrite, very humble, appropriate amount of emotion, request for apology, grace under pressure. It can't have been easy to get up there and say those things.

He doesn't need my forgiveness, but for the record, Tiger has it. And today's speech went very far in reestablishing my respect for him.

Sally Jenkins: An alternate point of view. Thanks.


Washington DC: What's the matter with you people? I find your comments about, and ignorance of, Buddhism deeply offensive. On the level of Brit Hume's. If Buddhism hadn't taught me about compassion and detachment, I would be hurling curses at you four.

Liz Kelly: Serenity now.


re: I find many of your reactions to be too cynical for my taste.: I agree. Just because someone is a wealthy celebrity doesn't mean they can't have feelings, emotions and remorse. It doesn't mean they can't be introspective.

Sally Jenkins: I don't think any of us is suggesting that Woods lacks remorse. We are simply suggesting that this performance today was not a natural expression of whatever it is Woods is truly feeling or experiencing. He remains a cipher to me.


Portland Oregon: As a man, as a husband and father whose wife was unfaithful, Tiger's statement was a painful reminder of what it means to have been cheated on, of the cost of such an affair, of how MY integrity and character were discarded, and our children was so terribly harmed and hurt. I listened and felt the tears within, and know the sadness still.

If Elin chooses to stay with him, it is her decision. He doesn't know the depth of emptiness within himself or harm he's caused. Time and deeds will tell.

Paul Farhi: I can imagine (and thank God I can only imagine) your pain. We sort of forget that, don't we, in this circus?


Weird, weird, weird and AWKWARD: It was so rehearsed it just sucked all of the authenticity out of it. Especially the hugs and stuff at the end - strange. The pauses to show emotion. Even if he really did feel like crying, etc. it practiced so many times it didn't look real.

Sally Jenkins: As another reader has pointed out, perhaps that IS the real Woods, stiff and awkward.


San Leandro, Ca.: Why are we so concerned about Tiger's private life. Many of those who criticize Tiger's infidelity have their own skeleton's in their closet. Tiger is human and makes mistakes like we all do. Get over it, this issue is a marriage concernn between Tiger and his wife. Not for the public to pass judgement!

Liz Kelly: Which is part of what Tiger was trying to impress on us today. He repeatedly said that his mistakes, his infidelity are matters of discussion only for him and his wife.

Which is fine. And I applaud your disinterest in the lurid details. But there is a significant audience out there that hungrily consumed every detail about Tiger's bevy of babes. And I'm not saying that some agencies didn't over cover this story, but I think we need to be a bit more honest with ourselves and admit that we're all susceptible to a little gossip from time to time.


Washington, D.C.: changed the lives of millions of kids? That's a bold claim. And untrue.

Sally Jenkins: Thanks for pointing that out. It did have an exagerated ring, didn't it?


Liz Kelly: Okay folks, thanks for joining us today to talk Tiger. I'm sure we haven't heard the last of this story.

Sally Jenkins: Thanks folks. I think the next thing we hear from Tiger Woods will tell us a lot more about where he really stands in his life and career.



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