Woods in rival's thoughts as Tiger's tale plays out

Updated: 05 December 2009 10:09 IST

Absent host Tiger Woods remained very much on the minds of golfers at the Chevron World Challenge even as lurid speculation about his private life dwindled.

Woods in rival's thoughts as Tiger's tale plays out

Thousand Oaks (California) :

Absent host Tiger Woods remained very much on the minds of golfers at the Chevron World Challenge even as lurid speculation about his private life dwindled.

"Walking out of my room today, I had the newspaper at the front door - wasn't even front page today," Ireland's three-time major champion Padraig Harrington said.

"That just says it all, doesn't it? Time moves on."

Woods's jealously guarded private life was thrust into the public spotlight last week in the wake of a strange car crash.

He has been the subject of tabloid allegations of infidelity and internet celebrity gossip on the state of his relationship with his wife, Elin, finally issuing an admission himself of unnamed "personal sins".

Amid the furore, Woods skipped his annual charity event here, staying home in Florida to nurse the injuries he received in the accident.

Harrington acknowledged that Woods' golf colleagues weren't immune to the story's pull.

"We're watching, like everybody else," he said. "I think at this stage there's plenty of information out there now. I suppose there's less speculation, so it's kind of losing its interest.

"It's becoming much more of a personal matter for Tiger and Elin now," Harrington said. Of more interest to the golf world is how the player who has become the global face of the game will fare on his return to public life.

Woods won't return to competitive golf until next year, with his typical debut event in most seasons being at Torrey Pines in San Diego, California, in late January.

So the world might not see until then how the scandal impacts upon the 14-time major champion whose quest since childhood has been to catch the record 18 major titles won by fellow legend Jack Nicklaus.

"The next big thing for Tiger is when he comes back out," Harrington said. "He probably has six or seven weeks to sort things out and then he'll have a barrage when he comes back out."

Whatever problems Woods faces in rebuilding his battered image, Harrington does not expect golf to be tarnished.

"Yes, he's going to have to deal with it, and that's the nature of the fact of being the number one sportsman in the world. You have to take it with the territory," Harrington said.

"But how it reflects on golf ... I would still say golf is comfortably the number one sport with the moral ethics and things like that. So I think we're in a very strong position going forward."

US veteran Kenny Perry said he felt the scrutiny Woods has faced was "unfair".

"What he did is definitely wrong, and I wouldn't have approved of it, but then again, half of America does it," Perry said. "It just hurts me to see everybody beat him up." As to how Woods would bounce back, Perry said, "This will be interesting to see how he handles this."

Perry noted that Woods has weathered criticism before, when he went through a period of struggle as he changed his golf swing.

"He found a way to become better," Perry said. "Is this going to make him stronger? We don't know. We'll find out.

Perry said he expected sponsors to stand by Woods, and little to change on the US PGA Tour because of the incident.

But he noted gallery favorite Woods might for once find himself taking some flak from fans.

"Is this really going to get inside his head a little bit and really going to mess with him?" Perry said. "We don't know."

US veteran Kenny Perry said he felt the scrutiny Woods has faced was "unfair".

"What he did is definitely wrong, and I wouldn't have approved of it, but then again, half of America does it," Perry said. "It just hurts me to see everybody beat him up." As to how Woods would bounce back, Perry said, "This will be interesting to see how he handles this."

Perry noted that Woods has weathered criticism before, when he went through a period of struggle as he changed his golf swing.

"He found a way to become better," Perry said. "Is this going to make him stronger? We don't know. We'll find out.

Perry said he expected sponsors to stand by Woods, and little to change on the US PGA Tour because of the incident.

But he noted gallery favorite Woods might for once find himself taking some flak from fans.

"Is this really going to get inside his head a little bit and really going to mess with him?" Perry said. "We don't know."



Topics : Golf Tiger Woods
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