Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rory McIlroy keen for Tiger Woods to restart career

Tiger Woods went jogging near his Orlando home ahead of his first press conference since the scandal brokeTiger Woods went jogging near his Orlando home ahead of his first press conference since the scandal broke

Rory McIlroy hopes that Tiger Woods will announce his return to golf when he makes his first public appearance since the scandal surrounding his private life broke in November.

The Northern Irish golfer said he was tired of reading about Woods's alleged marital infidelities and wants tomorrow's press conference in Florida to return the focus to the world No 1's career.

“He’s got to come out at some point,” McIlroy, who is competing in the Accenture matchplay championship in Arizona, said. "It just went on for so long. I’m sick of hearing about it. And I’m just looking forward to when he’s getting back on the golf course.”

Woods will read a prepared statement at a carefully controlled appearance at the PGA Tour’s headquarters in Jacksonville at which only a few journalists and one television camera will be present.

He will apologise for his behaviour in his private life but is expected to avoid making the public mea culpa that many believed was required for him to begin repairing his reputation.

McIlroy suspected Woods had timed his return to draw attention from an event backed by one of the first sponsors to withdraw their support for the player. "I suppose he might want to get something back against the sponsor that dropped him," McIlroy said, having fought back from being four holes down with six play to beat Kevin Na in the first round in Tucson.

Woods disappeared from public view after reports of several extra-marital affairs began to emerge in November, following a minor car crash that he was involved in outside his home. He has released only two public statements since the accident, the second in December 11 when he announced on his website that he would take an indefinite break from golf.

The allegations also led to AT&T ending their sponsorship deal with Woods, while Gillette and Gatorade cut back their association with him. However, Max Clifford, the publicist, ruled out claims that Woods's marketing potential has taken an irrevocable hit, suggesting it will return to close to its formidable peak once he returns to competition.

"Nike have stayed with him, two or three of his major sponsors have stayed with him, because they don't think his activities away from the golf course will upset their clients," Clifford said.

"The market research is very thorough. As long as Tiger Woods continues to be the greatest golfer in the world, the hundreds of millions will continue to flood in and he will be the biggest attraction anywhere he goes and plays golf.

"There are people in America who have been offended by his off-the-course activities, but in terms of his success and his earning prowess, as long as he continues to be incredibly talented on the golf course it won't make any difference - people want to see the best, and he is."

Mark Steinberg, Woods' manager, revealed details of the press conference, explaining that it would take place at 4pm GMT at the TPC Sawgrass clubhouse in Ponte Vedra Beach before a small group of friends and associates. "Tiger plans to discuss his past and his future and he intends to apologise for his behaviour," Steinberg said in a prepared statement.

John Cook, the veteran professional and a mentor of Woods, has turned down an invitation to the event, insisting he did not know what his friend would announce. "I can't even speculate what he might come out with," Cook said. "I'm just happy that he is [speaking publicly]. I've missed him and it's great to have him back. We have no idea what his plans are."


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Rory McIlroy keen for Tiger Woods to restart career

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