Former world No. 1 Tiger Woods will respond to questions from fans in a video scheduled to be published on his personal website on Monday afternoon.
Ostensibly designed to offer fans a means by which they can secure “more direct interaction” with the 14-time major winner, the clip will depict Woods answering a selection of questions posted by his followers on social media networks Facebook and Twitter.
Critics have branded the initiative a cynical PR exercise designed to boost the 36-year-old’s waning popularity, but the player’s agent, Mark Steinberg, suggested otherwise in conversation with ESPN’s Bob Harig:
“We’ve been thinking about this for a couple of months now,” Steinberg said Friday night. “We wanted to have a little bit more direct interaction with fans, and they’ve been very good to him over the years. We’re probably a little bit behind with social media and this is a way to do that.”
Steinberg said that post-round access would not change, and he stressed that this pre-tournament arrangement would only occur “a handful of times” during the year. Woods likely would continue to do interviews before major championships, events where he is the defending champion and selected tournaments, possibly including the Players Championship in two weeks.
“It’s just a chance to have him interact more with fans,” Steinberg said.
Steinberg also said this was not in response to any negative media reaction stemming from the Masters, where Woods was a disappointing 40th and was criticized for kicking a club in frustration during the second round.
“Absolutely not,” Steinberg said. “This will just be a few tournaments a year.”
Woods plans to publish the video in lieu of attending a pre-tournament press conference at this week’s Wells Fargo Championship Championship.
The event marks Woods’ first competitive appearance since last month’s Masters Tournament, where he finished in a tie for 40th place and attracted a barrage of press criticism for a combustible final-round performance.
Reproduced with permission from TheScore.ie
Ed. Note: If anyone believes for a second that this is designed to interact with fans, then I’m jealous of your idealistic naivete. Call me a cynical media person, but I see it as a proverbial middle finger to the press, and once again, Woods trying to control the message and asserting his big stick. It’s a reminder of who’s in charge.
What’s more, Tiger’s tired of fielding questions that cast doubt on his swing changes and game. He just can’t take the nonstop critique anymore. Which tell us more about his mental state than anything else. Rewind to a few weeks ago — his swing instructor Sean Foley went on the radio and told everyone to stop tearing down his man.
I understand (not that I agree with this daft decision). I’d be weary and sick of getting the third-degree and so-called antagonistic questions on every single thing I do or don’t do. Then again, it comes with the territory and if you’re Tiger Woods, then you gotta play the game.
There’s no reason why Tiger couldn’t have answered questions from fans and fulfilled his obligations in the media center. In fact, he could take a cue or two from Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald – just to name a few — who not only do both, they don’t hold contrived Q&A sessions controlled by their PR teams. Instead, they’re bored sitting around waiting for a flight or in their hotel room, so they spontaneously announce that they’ll take questions from their followers. There’s no set time for these things. When they’re tired or had enough, they’ll tell everyone they’re signing off for the night. Now I understand Tiger has more press obligations than anyone (but Rory is catching up to him quickly and he spends more time giving thoughtful and genuine responses).
If Steinberg truly thinks they’re “behind in social media,” then at least show Tiger selecting questions in real time and answering them in a live video. Now that would be interesting. Tiger wins by dodging the pre-tourney presser and preventing the mean media from getting under his skin with lame questions (which he usually responds with equally lame non-answers). The backlash, however, will be articles talking about Tiger eluding the press and giving perceived critics more ammunition.
Like I said, this PR decision makes me wonder about his bruised ego and mental strength. After all, it’s just a routine trip to the media center and he’s always been the master at delivering the same stock answers with the same catchphrases.
Who knows, maybe he’ll surprise us and be more candid. Ah, let’s be real — it is what it is.
(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)