Signs Showing Tiger Woods to Return to Golf at Bay Hill
More signs are pointing to Tiger Woods‘ return to golf in two weeks, at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando, according to a report in the New York Post. Two golf sources said former presidential press secretary Ari Fleischer, who helped craft Mark McGwire‘s return to baseball from his self-imposed exile following allegations of steroid use, has been working with Woods to chart a course for Woods’ return to professional golf, the newspaper reported. Woods has been on an indefinite leave from the game following admissions of marital infidelity late last year.
“[Woods and Fleischer] were in his living room this week going over a strategy for how to handle Bay Hill in two weeks,” one source said, according to the report.
A second source said, “I would be shocked if he didn’t play the Arnold Palmer,” according to the Post.
Woods has won the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill six times, claiming four straight titles from 2000 through 2003 and two more in 2008-09.
Meanwhile, Woods’ longtime friend, Mark O’Meara, told the Golf Channel Wednesday that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Woods played during the Tavistock Cup, a competition between two high-profile golf clubs in Orlando where several prominent PGA Tour players are members. The tournament is scheduled for March 22-23 at Isleworth.
The event would be a good way for Woods to ease back into competitive play, O’Meara told the Golf Channel.
“It’s been a rough road the last three or four months in Tiger’s life and his family’s life,” O’Meara said on the network. “It’s a very difficult situation. Golf is what Tiger does, and possibly part of the healing process is to get back at it.”
Fleischer, who served as press secretary for President George W. Bush, formed Ari Fleischer Sports Communications in 2008 in a joint venture with IMG Sports & Entertainment, the firm that represents Woods. Calls to Fleischer and to Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, were not returned on Wednesday, the Post reported.
Woods’ personal and professional life began to unravel on Nov. 27, when he was in a one-car accident near his home in a gated community near Orlando. Multiple allegations of marital infidelity surfaced and Woods, in a statement on his Web site, said he had been unfaithful and that he would take an indefinite leave of absence from golf.
Woods ended a lengthy public silence on Feb. 20, during a televised 13 ½-minute media event in which he apologized for his behavior.
“I do plan to return to golf one day,” Woods said during his statement. “I just don’t know when that day will be. I don’t rule out that it will be this year.”