Can Tiger Woods restore his image?

November, 17, 2010
11/17/10
4:36
PM ET

For a golfer who has spent much of his professional career as the best in the world, Tiger Woods has often embraced change and welcomed progress in various forms. While most players of his caliber would likely be more stubborn than malleable, he has undergone swing modifications while working with multiple instructors and utilizing new equipment.

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Tiger Woods
Goh Chai Hin/AFP/Getty ImagesTiger Woods started posting to a Twitter account on Wednesday (@TigerWoods.) Will he take to it like PGA Tour veterans Stewart Cink and Ian Poulter? That remains to be seen.

And yet, when facing the public and speaking with the media, Woods is almost robotic in nature, reluctant to say anything the least bit forthcoming, instead offering such favorite phrases as, "It is what it is," as a catch-all response without providing any pertinent details. This blueprint has gained even more momentum in the past year, as he has attempted to distance himself from a personal scandal that elicited worldwide recognition.

Well, nearly one year after details of that public embarrassment came to light, it seems Woods may be ready to employ a new swing change to his persona, if you will.

On Wednesday, he posted to an official Twitter account that was largely devoid of any content for years. He also penned a first-person op-ed for Newsweek entitled, "How I've Redefined Victory" and will appear on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike in the Morning" on Thursday at 7:30 a.m. ET.

Consider it an all-too-apparent attempt to restore a public image that many considered irreparably damaged. Not that such a strategy is a bad maneuver. Woods' response to his issues -- ranging from complete silence to a globally televised speech to simple, mundane answers to questions -- haven't exactly endeared him to the many fans he's lost along the way. So it's best to try a new approach through the use of social media and other avenues.

One question remains, though: Is it all too little, too late? Don't count on it. While Woods endured a few hecklers along the way, his winless 2010 season was largely witnessed by galleries that wanted him to succeed. The optimal way for him to win over the remainder of the masses is to, in order, keep his name out of the tabloids and win golf tournaments. He has succeeded at the former as of late, and continues to work on the latter.

In the meantime, making himself more available and personable should become a priority.

It shouldn't be too difficult, either. Anyone who has spent time around Woods knows he's a regular guy who enjoys sports, music and needling his pals. His first few attempts haven't sparked much in the way of entertainment or insight -- his initial Twitter posts were completely benign and his Newsweek piece was simply a reiteration of many press conference responses throughout the year -- but Woods should endeavor toward opening up as much as possible.

That means using social media much in the same way players like Stewart Cink and Ian Poulter have embraced the phenomenon. Answer questions from fans -- and not just one-word responses. Post some photographs. Tell a joke. Anything, really, that elicits an emotional response should be seen as a positive at this point.

Woods is now arming himself with the necessary artillery to show that he's a real human being with thoughts and feelings rather than the automaton we've so often seen on golf courses and in front of microphones. The scandal will always remain as a detrimental piece to his legacy, but if he can prove there's a personality behind the pervading fašade, it will go a long way toward restoring his image.

Jason Sobel is a golf writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn.com.

Jason Sobel | email

Golf Editor, ESPN.com
Jason Sobel, who joined ESPN in 1997, earned four Sports Emmy awards as a member of ESPN's Studio Production department. He became ESPN.com's golf editor in July 2004.

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