Sports fans and gossipmongers have been waiting for three months to hear from Tiger Woods, but his planned five-minute statement will be judged as much more than a simple step back into the spotlight, experts say.
"No matter what he says or how thorough he tries to be ... people are going to watch him and judge him based on contrition and whether they think he's changed," ESPN golf expert Tom Rinaldi told "Good Morning America" today.
Woods said Wednesday he will speak Friday at 11 a.m. from the Professional Golfers Association's headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
The timing of the statement has raised eyebrows, coming right in the middle of the Match Play Championship sponsored by Accenture, the first company to publicly drop him as a spokesman. Deadlines for upcoming tournaments also loom.
Fellow golfer Ernie Els told Golfweek magazine after Woods' announcement that his statement was "selfish."
"I feel sorry for the sponsor. Mondays are a good day to make statements, not Friday," he told the magazine. "This takes a lot away from the golf tournament."
USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan told "Good Morning America" today that Els' grumblings were likely shared by other golfers.
"It is not a nice moment," she said. "It is not a nice thing to do, to take the field of spotlight away from his peers."
But the planned statement shows that Woods is trying to take control of a situation that may have irreparably harmed his professional career and his personal life.
"This is a guy who has made his fame by mastering a given moment," Rinaldi said. "This moment will be the most challenging he's faced in his entire life."
Los Angeles public relations expert Howard Bragman told "Good Morning America" today that Woods' best chance for redemption is on the golf course.
"What's really going to determine his future is how well he plays golf once he goes back out on the course," he said.
Friday's statement is going to be so controlled, it may not make much of a difference, he said.
"He might as well have taped it himself and put it on YouTube," Bragman said. "If I were advising him, I'd say, 'You need to sit down with a credible journalist and really answer these questions.'"
In not taking any questions, as Woods' camp announced Wednesday, he pre-emptively reduced the event to a "dog-and-pony show," Brennan said.
But it will give reporters and a selected group of others the chance to eyeball the golfer up close for the first time in months.
"This is going to be a big deal in terms of how he tries to lay the groundwork for his comeback," she said.
If Woods is planning a comeback to the golf scene in the coming weeks or months, it's unclear exactly when he'd make his move.
PGA Tour ratings could certainly benefit from a comeback: Ratings are 50 percent lower when he's not on the green.
The Phoenix Open is next week and March's calendar includes the two-day Tavistock Cup. April brings the Bay Hill Invitational and the Masters.