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March 02, 2012

Truth & Rumors: Tiger feels the love in Jupiter

If the climate between Tiger Woods and the media at the Honda Classic has been less than warm and fuzzy, the galleries have welcomed him with open arms. The Honda is the first event Tiger has played in his new hometown, and fans greeted him Thursday like Bruce Springsteen returning to Asbury ParkDave George at the Palm Beach Post describes the scene:

Truth is, all he had to do was show up, a sentiment that was expressed numerous times throughout the round by shouts of "Thanks for coming, Tiger." That message was delivered by voices in the surging crowd, somewhat randomly and somewhat regularly, from the moment Woods teed off until his vanishing through a tunnel in the grandstands on No. 18 after a disappointing par that helped to apply the dull finish on his round.

For a superstar whose private life has been opened to rising and, most recently, falling levels of public scorn, the sensation of being applauded and accepted and encouraged no matter the score on a given hole must feel like a genuine hometown bonus. If nothing else, Tiger seems genuinely glad to be living in Jupiter Island, and practicing at the Medalist in Hobe Sound, and connecting for the first time since his amateur days in 1993 to the Honda Classic.

Asked after signing his mundane scorecard to assess the fans' reaction, Tiger lit up a bright smile for the first time all day and said, "It was incredible."

"It's just pretty neat to be able to play in front of people like this. This is my new hometown.”

Don’t take it personally, Orlando. You and TW had a nice run together. 

Why Tiger needs Anthony Robbins
When a reporter pressed Tiger Woods earlier this week about the accuracy of Hank Haney’s new memoir, Tiger responded with a glare that would reduce Ray Lewis to the fetal position. That exchange followed an e-mail Tiger’s agent, Mark Steinberg, sent to reporters in which he assailed Haney’s book as “armchair psychology.” Karen Crouse of the New York Times spoke by e-mail with a marketing expert who categorized Team Tiger’s reaction as another in a string of public-relations missteps.

Michael Fineman, the president of Fineman Public Relations, a San Francisco-based firm that has never represented Woods, wrote in an e-mail: “Tiger’s team missed a prime opportunity to take the high road with a more dignified public response; Team Tiger has done little in three years’ time to effectively reassure the oft-forgiving public that their hero has learned the lessons of being justifiably humbled.”

How can Woods help himself?

“Bottom line,” Fineman said, “Team Tiger needs a life coach.”

Crouse also spoke with Jesper Parnevik, who famously scolded Woods in 2009 for his marital transgressions, to better understand what it’s like to be on the list of Those Who’ve Crossed Tiger. Said Parnevik:

“[Elin] didn’t really have anyone to speak for her. Of course, I didn’t know it was going to explode as much as it did in the media and so on. I would do it again. But of course, it’s easier not to say anything. I think in any sport when you say something about the stars, it’s not always a good thing for the person who says it.”

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