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March 11, 2010

NY Post: Woods taps former Bush adviser Fleischer to plan return at Bay Hill

Posted at 11:47 AM by Mike Walker | Categories: Arnold Palmer, Arnold Palmer Invitational, Tiger Woods

Does this mean Tiger Woods is a Republican?

The New York Post's Mark Cannizzaro reported Thursday that Ari Fleischer, former press secretary to President George W. Bush, is helping Tiger Woods plan his return to golf at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, which begins March 25.

"They were in his living room this week going over a strategy for how to handle Bay Hill in two weeks," one source told The Post.

The other source told The Post, "I would be shocked if he didn't play the Arnold Palmer."

Palmer himself reportedly has told some close confidants that Woods is definitely playing Bay Hill. Quietly, the people running the tournament are preparing for a larger-than-usual media crush.

Fleischer, whom Bush nicknamed "Ari-Bob," advised Mark McGwire during the slugger's belated admission in January that he used steroids during his career. Fleischer was also rumored to be involved in Woods's public apology at TPC Sawgrass last month, which would help explain the presidential blue curtains behind Woods as he read his prepared statement.

Ari Fleischer Sports Communications was formed in 2008 and is a joint vernture with IMG, Cannizzaro reports.

According to Woods's friend Mark O'Meara, Woods might return to competitive golf even earlier than Palmer's tournament. O'Meara told The Golf Channel he "wouldn't be surprised" if Woods played the Tavistock Cup next week. The two-day tournament pits residents of Orlando's Lake Nona community against nearby Isleworth. Both communities are home to many PGA Tour pros, including Woods, who lives in Isleworth. The tournament is not open to the public, but it will be broadcast on The Golf Channel.

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