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Tiger's Monday Conference; Weir on Woods

The Golf Channel is talking about it every five minutes as if the first ball in the air at the Masters is Monday. Regardless that’s when the story gets rolling for most people, with Tiger Woods holding his first press conference. Yes, that’s right — press conference. Not a five minute one-on-one or a teary monologue for the cameras. Nope. Just a plain old press conference.

Of course it is anything but ordinary. I assume that’s why television network CTV is having me in studio to discuss the conference as it is being held live. The network might be disappointed if questions are limited strictly to golf — with no discussion about the never-ending series of tawdry tarts the golfer has apparently been hooked up with over the past few years. Then apparently I’ll be left discussing Woods’ decision to go for the 15th in two or whether the green is too slight to hold a high lofted mid-iron. I’m sure that’s what they are hoping for

If you’ll recall the whole Martha Burk, no women at Augusta debate from a few years back (who resurfaced this week, saying Augusta is the perfect place for Woods’ return), you might remember that the club’s press conference to talk about the tournament allowed very limited questions on the subject of women and the club, aside from an opening statement. This could be the same — with the Augusta member who hosts the conference instructing the media that only questions pertaining specifically to Mr. Woods’ golf game (and he’ll probably call him “Mr. Woods”) will be allowed. Then it could get interesting. The American Society of Golf Writers, the organization which most US golf writers belong, boycotted Woods’ initial monologue because they were not allowed to ask questions and Woods’ handlers were only allowing a specific number of writers to attend. Will a writer risk the wrath of Augusta and go after Woods anyway? Will Tiger get flustered if the questions are more about his sex life than his driving game (though those may be closer to the same thing … drum fill please)?

These are the questions that we don’t have answers for — at least until Monday at 2. Golf Channel will be streaming the press conference live if you’re stuck at a desk somewhere.

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In case you are wondering, as I was, Mike Weir is a bit nonplussed about the possibility of being picked as a playing partner for Woods at Augusta. And while he may not be entirely keen, he has thought about the chance that it might happen. That was made clear from his comments earlier this week at a teleconference with Canadian media. I’m beginning to loath these Q&As because so few interesting questions get asked, and there are so many game killers dropped in the process. Anyway, I asked about being paired with Woods at the Masters and here’s what Weir had to say:

Should it happen it is something I’d be prepared to deal with. I don’t know when they bring the pairings out — probably Tuesday or something like that. Obviously I’d have to answer questions about Tiger and how he looks and how his game looks and everything else. It is an added thing that playing in a major championship you don’t want to have to think about. But if it happens it happens. But you know … we’ll wait and see. Probably rather not have that happen at a major championship.

I followed it up with a question of advice to those who might be paired with Woods. Weir had this to say:

I guess it depends who it is. If it is a veteran guy like — I’ll just throw out a name here — like  Mark O’Meara of a Fred Couples, well they’ll have played so much golf with him I guess it is just a matter of being patient enough to answer the questions after the round, before the round because it is probably not going to be questions about you — it’ll be questions about him. On the other hand, I’ve always enjoyed playing with Tiger. Once we got on the golf course it would be great. I love playing with the guy. He’s a great competitor and you want to play with the best and compete against the best, so I’d look forward to that challenge.

Of course Weir also remembers when he was paired with Woods in Chicago in 1999 at the PGA Championship and found himself distracted by Woods and the crowds that followed them. He had an awful day and vowed not to be distracted by his surroundings again. That’s why it would make sense to have veterans play with Woods — they won’t be too bothered by the on-course issues, especially considering Augusta is a place that actively discourages its spectators patrons from running. Besides can the crowds for Woods get any bigger than they typically are? I mean if you go seven deep instead of six, will anyone notice a difference?

Kent Gilchrist of the Vancouver Province also picks up on Weir’s remarks. The Globe’s Lorne Rubenstein also touches on the subject.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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