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Tournaments preparing for Tiger Woods return
March 10, 2010

Not long after Tiger Woods returned home and starting practicing, the PGA Tour began checking with tournaments to make sure they were prepared to handle the hype over the world’s No. 1 player getting back to golf.

That even includes tournaments he has never played.

“Historically, he hasn’t played the week before the Masters,” said Steve Timms, tournament director of the Houston Open, which is the week before the Masters. “But these are unusual times. We’re prepared from a security and media standpoint. We’ve been watching the media closely, and we’ve had some weird ones.”

Timms, like other tournament directors, are in touch with PGA Tour officials about who is applying for media credentials.

The more immediate focus is in Florida. Woods hasn’t played at Innisbrook since Kelli Kuehne was his partner in 1996 at the old JCPenney Classic. Long before Woods was exposed for cheating on his wife, there had been increasing speculation that he was considering the Transitions Championship one of these years, although this doesn’t appear to be one of them.

Even so, tournament director Gerald Goodman said tour officials contacted him last week.

“They described it as talking to all tournaments,” Goodman said. “They gave no indication that they knew anything, they were just wanting to be thorough. They asked us if we had room for media. We’re a large resort on a thousand acres. There’s plenty of room.”

Scott Wellington didn’t need a phone call to start planning. He’s the tournament director of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, where Woods is a six-time champion (including last year) and lives a short drive away.

Wellington said the tour shared information from its experience at the TPC Sawgrass, where Woods spoke publicly Feb. 19 for the first time since his car accident the morning after Thanksgiving. Some 300 media came to a nearby hotel to cover the event.

Bay Hill is not the largest property, although it typically has a large media turnout because it is two weeks before the Masters.

“We’ll accommodate to the extent we’re able to,” Wellington said. “But it’s like a balloon. It can only get so big. We’ve discussed ‘Plan B’ scenarios, and we’re prepared to react as best we can. Obviously, it would help to get as much advance knowledge as we can.”

Woods typically does not enter a tournament until a day or two before the 5 p.m. Friday deadline, although there are indications from his management team that more notice will be given in this case.

PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw described the phone calls as typical conversations the tour has with its events on subjects ranging from media coverage to charity to television. In this case, another topic was added—the return of Woods.

“We’ve not indicated that we have inside knowledge,” Votaw said. “We just want them to be aware so they’re no scrambling.”


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