The timing seemed curious, Tiger Woods electing to make his first public appearance in the midst of a tournament sponsored by a company that was the first to sever endorsement ties with him in the wake of his off-course troubles. Was it deliberate, a means by which he could retaliate, as widespread speculation suggests?
"I can't read minds," Fred Hawrysh, the Head of Corporate Communications for Accenture, said Thursday, in the midst of the second round of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. "I don't think it has anything to do with the tournament. I think Tiger's got his reasons why he wants the announcement on Friday. If they really wanted to interfere with our tournament - which honestly I think is the last thing on their minds - then they would have run it during the tournament. They wouldn't have scheduled it for three hours before play. I think it's more coincidental. I don't think it's deliberate."
Hawrysh confirmed that the Woods camp had informed the company of his intent (though without soliciting its consent) to make his first public appearance since November on the morning of the third round Match Play Championship.
"We actually got a call. We got a heads up on the announcement," he said. "Tiger's agent (Mark Steinberg) contacted us yesterday (Wednesday) and explained that Tiger wanted to make an announcement and they were planning to do it Friday. They made it clear they were scheduling for 11 a.m. Eastern and it's live so it wouldn't conflict with what's happening out here. They took the extra step to make sure that it wasn't conflicting with the match going on, the television coverage."
Hawrysh said the company was not consulted on the date, however. "The dates were fixed and there were probably reasons for that," he said. "We were consulted on the times, though."
Hawrysh said the company does not think that the Woods announcement has detracted from the Match Play Championship.
"We had a great first day," he said. "And we have every expectation that we'll continue to get great coverage and get great television viewership. It could have the opposite affect. It could spur a lot of interest, a spike in interest in golf among people who might not be following golf everyday."
-- John Strege