ORLANDO -- For the second year in a row, Tiger Woods might be hosting a gazillion-dollar golf tournament mostly in absentia.
With his name in the tabloid and mainstream media headlines for all the wrong reasons, Woods is set to host the Chevron World Challenge in suburban Los Angeles later this week, although given the embarrassing news events of the past four days, whether he’ll play is anybody’s guess.
And we do mean anybody.
Tournament director Greg McLaughlin said Sunday afternoon that Woods has not indicated whether he will play or not. Woods missed last year’s tournament while recovering from knee surgery, although he did attend.
“I don't know what his plans are right now,” McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin was reached a few minutes after Woods had released a statement regarding his solo crash into a hydrant and tree outside his home last Friday morning. In the statement attributed to him, Woods complained of bruises and soreness. He sustained facial laceration in the collision, which left him semi-conscious and mumbling incoherently, according to law-enforcement authorities.
Woods is tentatively scheduled to address the media at Sherwood Country Club, the tournament site, on Tuesday, although the mention of soreness and physical damage certainly gives him an out.
If Woods doesn’t show, he traditionally hasn’t played again until the PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines, set for the last week of January – eight weeks down the road.
Moreover, the woman with whom Woods is alleged to have been conducting an extra-marital affair is said to be in Los Angeles already, meeting with celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, a notorious publicity hound. If any news briefings are held by Allred and her client, Los Angeles is about the last place Woods will want to be -- especially because he'd be within easy reach of the media covering his tournament. Woods on Sunday all but begged for personal privacy as he sorts through his decidedly uncharacteristic situations.
The Los Angeles Times printed a multi-page special section about the tournament in its Sunday paper, with Woods on the front. Now it looks as though his spot in the 18-man field might be filled by another player. McLaughlin said he has several players willing to fill the spot if it comes to that.
Unlike a traditional tournament, there is no commitment deadline, per se.
“We have until Thursday to decide,” McLaughlin said.
The event, with a staggering $5.75 million purse despite the limited field, is set for broadcast on the Golf Channel and NBC.