The Tiger Woods camp's careful orchestration of his first public appearance since he went underground in the wake of his Thanksgiving night accident encountered resistance on Thursday, when the Golf Writers Association of America board of directors voted overwhelmingly to boycott the event on Friday.
The GWAA took issue with the limit on the number of journalists allowed in, the condition that they not be allowed to ask questions, and the perception that the media was invited simply as a means to lend credibility to the event.
"I cannot stress how strongly our board felt that this should be open to all media and also for the opportunity to question Woods," GWAA President Vartan Kupelian said. "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."
Nineteen members of the board voted in favor of the boycott, four voted against and three abstained.
Woods' camp had invited wire service reporters from the Associated Press, Reuters and Bloomberg to attend the event at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., headquarters for the PGA Tour. It also said that the GWAA could select three members to attend as pool reporters, while noting that it was not a press conference and that no questions would be allowed.
The top three officers of the GWAA originally were chosen: Kupelian; first vice president Mark Soltau, a contributing editor to Golf Digest; and second vice president Bob Harig of ESPN.
When the GWAA protested the number allowed, Woods' advisors agreed to increase it to six. The GWAA rejected the offer.
Woods' spokesman Glenn Greenspan, asked whether the boycott would effect any change in Friday's proceedings, replied via email with this:
"Pools are a standard and accepted format for reporters to cover news events where so many reporters show up that their presence would overwhelm the event. We appreciate the fact that the TV networks agreed to pool coverage and regret that some print reporters refuse to do the same."
-- John Strege