By Chuck Garbedian Special to Published Jan 08, 2010 at 5:15 AM

With all the questions that surround Tiger Woods, how do you look at him?

The first question that comes to mind is, of course, "What was he thinking ...?"

That is the billion dollar question and one that can only be answered by Tiger Woods.

How compelling, timely and complete the answer to that question is will go a long way in determining how quickly this cascading dark adventure will tumble to an end and a new chapter can begin to unfurl. Until Woods makes an appearance of some sort to describe in detail, once and for all, what the daylights was going on, for what appears to be years, he will continue to be a punch line.

What took AT&T so long to make a decision in dropping Tiger as a sponsor, yet remain as a sponsor to the AT&T National PGA Tour event, a tournament that Tiger had hosted? And what is to be made of the quote from PGA Tour representative Ty Votaw, who said that Tiger will not serve as host for the 2010 event to be held at the Aronimink Golf Club outside of Philadelphia (the City of Brotherly Love no less), June 28 through July 4, due to his indefinite leave from professional golf?

Does that mean that Woods will be on his indefinite leave from professional golf through this event? And if Woods does indeed come back to play, say, at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, where he is the defending champion and the course literally lies in his backyard, as a tune-up for The Masters beginning April 5, will he not be welcome to play in his own event where he is the defending champion?

After all the money he has made for sponsors, agents, retailers and of course the PGA, does the Tour believe it can tell Tiger that he cannot play in an event created for him?

What about the sponsors that have bailed so far? Accenture was the first of the big ones to go, saying that Woods is "no longer the right representative" of the consulting firm's company values. OK, how many of us use a consulting firm?

Then Gillette, a unit of Proctor and Gamble, said it would not air ads for its razors that include Woods or include him in public appearances. OK, how many of us use razors? Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer also announced that it would "downscale" its use of Woods' image in ads for the foreseeable future. OK, how many of us can use our outrageously expensive Swiss time piece to tell when the foreseeable future arrives?

There is no question that Woods's actions have long-lasting financial ramifications, both for himself and the companies he "represented." There is no way to repair the damage. There is time to move forward and move on, but for any of that to occur, Woods has to first reach out to the general golf public and (gasp!) to the golf media that he has been able to keep at arm's length for almost his entire professional career.

In certain instances, absence make the heart grow fonder, but if things are as they appear right now and you believe reports that are flying in from various sources, what kind of "work" can Tiger be doing with his marriage when he is AWOL and his wife is being spotted all over the globe?

If Tiger had never married and ran around the world winning tournaments with different blonde on his arm at every Tour stop, he'd have been the George Clooney of golf; everybody digs him, everybody gets it, women want to be with him and men want to be him. Now, there is a group of guys who jump every time their cell phone lights up.

What an odd birthday it must have been for Tiger. He turned 34 on Dec. 30, normally a time when The Golf Channel promoted "Tiger Week." They'd show the 1997 Masters, the 2001 Masters, the 2002 Masters, the 2005 Masters, the 2000 run which included the US Open, British Open and the PGA Championship.

Now The Golf Channel, in uncharted waters, still airs the Majors, along with other Tiger-related tournaments, but doesn't promote them. And really, what would you get Tiger for his birthday? How would you get it to him since no one seems to know where he is?

When does Tiger return to competitive professional golf? This can be answered two ways. First, he works on himself, his marriage, his image and if he is serious, contrite and dedicated to the process, 2011 will usher in a new Tiger era.

If the only way this goes forward is with a divorce, then get the lawyers going and make an appearance at the next possible tournament. Have a press conference, answer the questions once, win the thing and move on. Set your schedule for the rest of the 2010 season and if anyone tries to ask you about anything other than golf, say that you answered all the "other" questions and you're here to play golf.

Everyone is human, everyone makes mistakes. But this was something more in a number of different ways. It was an accomplished, elite athlete, who used the power and privilege he earned to create an aura of invincibility. We (fans, media, sponsors) placed him on a pedestal only to have the curtain pulled back to reveal the ugly truth. And the truth is, this was not a "one-time" thing; this was a series of women over a period of time. This was cold and calculating and thought out if not well-planned.

This took Tiger Woods from being immortal to "just a guy."

Where is it going to end? It isn't. This will go on for some time to come, with fans, with the media, with the sponsors. For some, it may never end. I'm a huge fan of the game and Tiger Woods. As media chairman, I helped arrange the 1996 "Hello World" press conference at the Greater Milwaukee Open at Brown Deer Park. I stood on the range and gawked with others as Woods swatted shot after shot into the Milwaukee County distance. I worked on orchestrating his "escape" from the Media Center on Sunday afternoon through the back of the Press Tent, into a cart that I drove to a waiting SUV in the players' parking lot that whisked Woods to the airport and out of town.

I was there at the start of his professional career and I wanted to believe in the greatness, the shot-making, the aura ... I still believe, but I can't honestly say I will ever look at Tiger Woods the man the same way I used to look at Tiger Woods the golfer.

By the way, 2010 in the Chinese New Year is the Year of the Tiger. Happy New Year!

Chuck Garbedian Special to
Chuck has more than a decade of experience in many aspects of the golf industry -- from sales to teaching to hosting radio talk shows. He has been media chairman for the Greater Milwaukee Open since 1992, has served as women's golf coach at Wisconsin Lutheran College and is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America. He currently does work for PGA TOUR Network on SIRIUS XM Radio.