D No1 Tiger Woods has come under fire from some of his most famous fellow players for choosing today to make a long-awaited public statement on his private life and a return to the game.
Woods is due to break more than two months’ of silence by addressing a small hand-picked audience at Sawgrass Clubhouse in Florida this afternoon. The American is set to apologise for a number of alleged infidelities to his wife Elin and, having taken time off in the wake of the ensuing media storm, indicate when he could resume playing.
However his timing has raised eyebrows – his announcement clashes with the second day of the WGC Match Play Championship in Arizona – and three-time Major winner Ernie Els accused Woods of creating a huge distraction.
“It’s selfish,” said Els. “You can write that. I feel sorry for the sponsor. Mondays are a good day to make statements, not Friday. This takes a lot away from the golf tournament.”
Spanish Ryder Cup star Sergio Garcia also gave the move a cool reception, saying: “The timing of it is not the best, but he has to do what’s best for him, I guess.” Match Play defending champion Geoff Ogilvy was less diplomatic. “Maybe we can put the whole tournament on hold for 10 minutes to watch,” said the Australian.
Accenture, which sponsors the Match Play, was of the companies to drop Woods after a string of women came forward to claim affairs with him, leading to suggestions he might have timed his statement to damage them.
Meanwhile, English trio Paul Casey, Luke Donald and Ian Poulter all recorded second-round wins at the Tucson event.
Casey, last year’s runner-up, crushed Canada’s 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir 5&4, while Donald went one better with a 6&5 drubbing of Australia’s Robert Allenby. Poulter saw off Australia’s Adam Scott 2&1 but Rory McIlroy’s hopes were ended by Oliver Wilson who claimed victory at the second extra hole.