Tiger Woods To Return in Caught in the Middle Posted February 17, 2010 · Report reply http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703444804575071663150820760.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_LEADNewsCollection Tiger Woods is planning to issue a statement Friday, in which the disgraced golfer is expected to apologize for his behavior and discuss his return to the sport. Mr. Woods took an abrupt leave of absence from golf in the wake of a sex scandal that began unfolding in November. He will speak at 11 a.m. Friday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., at the Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass golf course, where the PGA Tour is headquartered. Mark Steinberg, Mr. Woods's agent, said in a statement that Mr. Woods plans to discuss his past and his future and he intends to apologize for his behavior. The statement will occur during the week of the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship. Global consulting firm Accenture PLC is one of the sponsors that dropped Mr. Woods as a result of the scandal. It remained unclear late Wednesday when Mr. Woods plans to return to golf. The next PGA Tour event after this weekend is the Phoenix Open on Feb. 25. The Masters, the first major tournament of the season, is April 8. Accenture said that Mr. Woods's news conference will not overlap with its golf tournament, which started Wednesday and runs through Sunday in Marana, Ariz. The tournament tees off at noon local time on Friday—three hours after Mr. Woods's planned announcement, said Accenture spokesman Fred Hawrysh. Ty Votaw, the PGA Tour's chief spokesman, said the tour was approached within the "past week or so" and asked to provide a venue for Mr. Woods's news conference and to assist with logistics on Friday. The tour declined to comment on what will happen Friday, though, "because we don't know what he's going to say," Mr. Votaw said. PGA Tour rules require players to commit to a tournament by 5 p.m. the week before the event. While Mr. Woods could on Friday commit to next week's event—what is now known as the Waste Management Phoenix Open—it would be highly unlikely. The event was the site of one of the highlights of "Tigermania," when in 1997 Mr. Woods made a hole in one at the 16th hole, which has been promoted over the years as the loudest hole in golf. Increasingly larger grandstands have been erected over the years to pack in more fans. That year, shortly before his historic victory at the Masters, fans—and Mr. Woods—erupted when his tee shot found the bottom of the cup for an ace. But in 1999, a fan with a gun in a backpack was heckling Mr. Woods. The fan was escorted off the course. Mr. Woods has played the Phoenix event just once since then. More likely for Mr. Woods's return would be a made-for-TV event called the Tavistock Cup. The two-day event is played in March and is very tightly controlled—both fans and media are restricted. The event also is played in Mr. Woods's gated community, meaning he could walk to the first tee. And then, of course, he could play at the year's first major, the Masters, where decorum is stressed and fans—who Augusta National insists be called patrons—are fearful of a golf-etiquette breach that would result in their passes being revoked. The public-relations debacle that unfolded over revelations of Mr. Woods's extramarital affairs was a major blow to his multimillion-dollar endorsement business. Accenture and AT&T Inc. severed their ties with the golf superstar. AT&T declined to comment on news of Mr. Woods's news conference. Accenture Chief Marketing Officer Roxanne Taylor spoke with Mr. Woods's agent on Wednesday before the golfer announced that he would break his public silence, Mr. Hawrysh, the Accenture spokesman, said. Accenture said its discussion with Mr. Woods's agent was about the scheduling of the news conference, and that the company doesn't know any details about Mr. Woods's personal life or living arrangements. Accenture declined to discuss the terms of its contract with Mr. Woods, but noted that its decision to end its sponsorship agreement with Mr. Woods remains unchanged. Several other sponsors, including Procter & Gamble Co.'s Gillette and Tag Heuer, a unit of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, distanced themselves from the golfer by limiting his role in their marketing campaigns. Despite the scandal, Mr. Woods was able to hold on to some of his sponsorship deals. Nike Inc. and sports-memorabilia retailer Upper Deck Co. have said they will stand by Mr. Woods. A spokeswoman for Nike said on Wednesday the company's relationship with Mr. Woods remains the same. "Nike fully supports Tiger and his family through this difficult time," the company said. "We respect his privacy. We look forward to him returning to golf." Mr. Wood's likeably scores and trust scores have fallen "significantly," since the golf pro crashed his SUV into a fire hydrant in November, says Matt Fleming, senior account manager for Davie-Brown, an Omnicom Group company that tracks the appeal of celebrities using online poll of U.S. consumers. Prior to the incident, Mr. Woods's was ranked as the ninth most aspirational celebrity but he has now fallen to 2411th out of 2449 celebrities that are in Davie-Brown's database. As I've said before, I dont approve of his actions off the course, but I cant wait to see him swing a golf club again.