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Golf roundup

Stage set for Tiger to speak

Finchem says Woods returning to therapy

Associated Press / February 19, 2010

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Tiger Woods is to return to therapy after he speaks publicly for the first time about his infidelity, according to a letter from PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem that was obtained by the Associated Press.

Finchem’s letter to the PGA Tour policy board and other officials explained why Woods chose today to make his first public comments, which are to be televised live by the major networks.

“As we understand it, Tiger’s therapy called for a week’s break at this time during which he has spent a few days with his children and then will make his statement before returning,’’ Finchem said in a letter yesterday. “Accordingly, there was very little flexibility in the date for the announcement.’’

Woods is to speak at 11 a.m. from the clubhouse at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., home of the PGA Tour. It will be his first time to speak publicly since his car accident Nov. 27 that sparked sordid revelations of extramarital affairs.

The letter shed no light on whether Woods plans to return to the tour any time soon.

Woods is to speak in the Sunset Room on the second floor to a small group of “friends, colleagues, and close associates,’’ along with limited media. He is not scheduled to answer questions.

Three wire services - the AP, Reuters, and Bloomberg - were invited. The Golf Writers Association of America voted overwhelmingly not to participate.

“I cannot stress how strongly our board felt that this should be open to all media and also for the opportunity to question Woods,’’ said Vartan Kupelian, president of the 950-member group.

The public hasn’t had a clean look at Woods’s face since photos Wednesday of him jogging in his neighborhood outside Orlando.

Far more compelling, however, will be the sound of his voice. Woods has not been heard in the 78 days since a magazine released a voicemail he allegedly left one of the women to whom he has been romantically linked, warning that Woods’s wife might be calling.

Networks reworked their programming, and by late yesterday, seven satellite trucks had parked outside the Sawgrass Marriott. The major networks will carry the statement live. The Golf Channel will start coverage at 10:30 a.m. - call it a 30-minute pregame show.

Match Play - Lee Westwood, Jim Furyk, Martin Kaymer, and Rory McIlroy - seeded second through fifth - were among the losers in Marana, Ariz. Defending champion Geoff Ogilvy was beaten by Camilo Villegas, 2 and 1.

The highest remaining seed is England’s Paul Casey at No. 6. Casey, the runner-up a year ago who won the World Match Play Championship in England in 2006, dispatched Mike Weir, 5 and 4.

PGA - Joe Durant, 45, birdied five of the final eight holes for a 7-under-par 64 and a one-stroke lead in the Mayakoba Classic in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.

Durant, a four-time tour winner, played the front nine in 2 under, then birdied Nos. 11-13 and 16-17 for a back-nine 30.

Cameron Beckman, Briny Baird, Jarrod Lyle, and J.P. Hayes opened with 65s, and Tom Pernice Jr., Jason Gore, Jeff Maggert, and Thomas Levet shot 66s.

LPGA - Suzann Pettersen made a tap-in eagle on the par-5 18th for a 6-under 66 and a share of the first-round lead with M.J. Hur in the season-opening Honda PTT in Pattaya, Thailand.