AUGUSTA, Ga. – The chairman of Augusta National Golf Club had harsh words for Tiger Woods, saying the world's best golfer disappointed everyone with his sex scandal and didn't live up to expectations as a role model.
Billy Payne said Wednesday that Woods won't be judged in the future solely on his performance as a golfer, but by the sincerity of his efforts to change as a person.
"Our hero did not live up to his status as a role model," Payne said during his annual state of the Masters news conference. "I hope that he realizes every kid he walks by would love to have his swing but will settle for his smile."
Woods is returning to competitive golf for the first time since a Thanksgiving night car crash unleashed reports of a secret private life that included numerous extramarital affairs. He was dropped by several major sponsors and spent 45 days in therapy.
Woods will tee off in the next-to-last group Thursday afternoon with K.J. Choi and Matt Kuchar.
"We hope and pray that he will begin his new life tomorrow in a positive and constructive manner," Payne said. "This year is not just for Tiger but for all of us who believe in second chances.
"Certainly in the future, he will be judged not only by his performance against par, but the sincerity of his efforts to change."
Payne declined to answer specific questions about Woods, saying his prepared remarks were all he wanted to say on the matter.