Just days before his return to golf, Tiger Woods will confront a roomful of reporters today and likely parry some of the most direct questions about his career-derailing sex scandal ever put to him.
Woods returns to Augusta National on Thursday to play his first professional round of golf since he took a leave from the game following a series of allegations about marital infidelity that began surfacing last November.
Despite opening himself up to questions, Woods will be given some protection by the club's staid rules of decorum and a culture that insulates pro golfers from the media and fans.
The brief press conference scheduled to start at 2 p.m. will be held in the club's interview room, a small space that limits the number of reporters able to ask questions.
Only a handful of the dozens of journalists covering the Masters, expected to be the most-watched professional golf event ever, will be allowed in the room.
"Masters officials expect those desiring access to exceed capacity in the interview room," the club said in a statement.
Today's event is the most recent in a string of public appearances in which Woods has become increasingly forthcoming and willing to take questions about reports that he carried on extramarital affairs with more than a dozen women and subsequently sought addiction therapy.
In the immediate aftermath of a Nov. 25 car crash that led to the string of allegations, Woods released only terse, vaguely worded statements through his Web site.
On Feb. 19, a contrite Woods made his first public comments, apologizing to his wife and family and admitting to undergoing therapy, presumably for sex addiction. He did not, however, take questions.
"I want to say to each of you simply and directly [that] I am deeply sorry for my irresponsible and selfish behavior I engaged in," Woods said at the time. "The issue involved here was my repeated irresponsible behavior. I was unfaithful. I had affairs. I cheated. What I did is not acceptable, and I am the only person to blame."
Last month, Woods gave his first official interviews, in which he could be asked questions.
In five-minute interviews with ESPN and the Golf Channel, Woods was the most candid he had been, but still remained tight lipped about how and why he conducted so many affairs.
Woods told ESPN's Tom Rinaldi that his wife, Elin Nordegren, and mother, Kultida Woods, were "brutal" on him when the scandal broke.
"They've both been very tough because I hurt them the most," Woods said. "Those are the two people in my life who I'm closest to, and to say the things that I've done, truthfully, to them is ... honestly ... was ... very painful.
"I had gotten away from my core values, as I said earlier," he said. "I'd gotten away from my Buddhism. And I quit meditating, I quit doing all the things that my mom and dad had taught me. And as I said earlier in my statement, I felt entitled, and that is not how I was raised."
Though Woods appeared composed during the interview, Rinaldi later said that the scandal and his having to talk about it clearly had taken a toll on Woods.
Golf great Arnold Palmer recently lauded Woods' decision to hold the press conference, telling reporters, it would help Woods to "move on."
"I suppose the best thing he could do would be open up and just let you guys [the media] shoot at him," Palmer said.
Augusta National in Augusta, Ga. has been the home of the masters for more than 70 years. Behind its famous wrought iron gates, the club has changed little since its founding. It remains an enclave for America's rich and powerful, where women remain barred from becoming members, and spectators, who the club calls "patrons," adhere to genteel rules of civility. It is those rules of decorum for which Woods may have chose Augusta to return to golf.
"It's his re-entry back into this world and the softest possible landing," ESPN's Mike Tirico told "Good Morning America," following Woods' announcement that he would play at this year's tournament.
"It's the most controlled setting," Tirico said. "The only people inside the ropes at the Masters are the contestants, the caddies, the rules officials and a couple of the cameras that throw the TV pictures. By and large, compared to a regular PGA Tour event, it's a more pristine environment. Less distractions."
To further insulate himself inside confines of Augusta, Woods reportedly asked to stay on the grounds at a special lodge reserved for amateurs and club members only. According to the New York Daily News, the club rebuffed Woods' request to stay at the Crow's Nest, a move he hoped would allow him and the media to concentrate on his game and not on his activities off the course.