THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
Dan Shaughnessy

Music he could dance to

By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / April 6, 2010

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One of yesterday’s questions started with, “Tiger, after what you’ve been through the last five months . . .’’

Stop. This is not a guy coming back from flying 39 combat missions over Korea. This is not a guy coming back from leukemia or a death in the family. Let’s admit that some of the salacious stuff is none of our business, but could we please not paint Tiger Woods as a comeback hero? I fear that’s the way it’s going to be framed this week at friendly Augusta (“A tradition like no other’’).

It’s always been about image with Tiger and it’s no different now.

Eldrick yesterday submitted to his first news conference since his life unraveled and we don’t know much more now than we knew before he agreed to take questions from a throng of golf writers at Augusta National.

Nobody asked about text messages, porn stars, or Perkins hostesses. It was mostly slow-pitch softball with Tiger and the golf scribes.

OK. We expect nothing more. But let’s not allow the genteel nature of Augusta and its minions to somehow paint Tiger as a victim.

In the middle of the 35-minute session, Tiger looked out at the group and said, “A lot of my friends are in here. A lot of you in here are my friends and will always be my friends.’’

Geez. Nomar and Schill never said that to me.

Unfortunately, the “friends’’ asked too many fawning questions.

“What’s been the most difficult to deal with?’’

“Are you more concerned with putting this week, or are there other parts of your game?’’

“What are your thoughts on your playing partners this week?’’

Sorry, that’s not why ESPNews carried this live.

There was some news in yesterday’s 49-question session. Tiger told us he suffered a five-stitch cut to his lip on the night of the accident. He disclosed that Elin Woods will not be at the Masters. He was unusually forthcoming when asked about why the nefarious Dr. Anthony Galea came to his house. Woods gave us a lot more detail about his medical treatment (platelet-rich plasma injection into his lateral collateral ligament) than he normally would have furnished. That’s part of the New Tiger, I guess. He’s going to be nice to the fans now (he signed autographs yesterday), and more cooperative with his “friends’’ in the golf media.

He also said he’s going to “tone down my outbursts.’’

Good. No more swearing or club throwing. And more interaction with the gallery.

When faced with a couple of tougher questions, Tiger went to his Bill Belichick playbook.

Asked what he was in treatment for, Woods said, “That’s personal. Thank you.’’

Asked if he should be returning to the game so soon while he’s repairing his relationship with his wife, he said, “I decided to play this week.’’

When a reporter inquired about Ambien playing a role in the car crash, Tiger said, “Well, the police investigated the accident, and they cited me 166 bucks. And it’s a closed case.’’

In other words, Get Back Loretta.

Hope those FOT (friends of Tiger) don’t get their credentials pulled.

I’m betting that this is it. Tiger will never again address this stuff. There’ll no doubt be more bimbo eruptions, TMZ tasers, and Vanity Fair bombshells, but he’s going to say he explained everything when he took questions on Masters Monday.

Meanwhile, he’ll work to repair his tattered image. He’s going to project himself in a way that will make America like him again. The sponsors, no doubt, will take note. Procter & Gamble dropped Tiger from some ads in recent months, but the company yesterday applauded Woods’s new facial hair, stating, “The goatee is part of a well-groomed look.’’

“Nothing’s changed,’’ Woods said. “I’m going to go out there and try to win this thing.’’

Get used to it, America. It’s Game On for the restoration of the Tiger Woods Brand and if he wins the Masters he’ll be Charles Lindbergh parading through the Canyon of Heroes.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.