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Tiger's Statement a "Grand Opportunity"

Tiger Woods is facing what a celebrity expert consultant calls a "grand opportunity" as he starts trying to rebuild the image that was shattered when word of his repeated infidelity got out following the golf superstar's Thanksgiving night car accident.

Woods is slated to make a statement Friday to a small group of reporters he sees as friendly, among other people. It's expected Woods will apologize and perhaps shed light on his past - and maybe even his future.

"This is a grand opportunity for him to begin a process and it's going to be a very long walk up a steep, steep hill for him over a period of time," says celebrity image consultant Michael Levine of LCO, Levine Communications Office. "But this is an important first beginning step," he told "Early Show" co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez.

Woods is coming under fire because he won't be taking questions at the session, but Levine says, "Of course he's not gonna take any questions. Nor should he. If I represented him, I wouldn't allow him to take questions either. The potentiality for salacious questions is just too great."

"This is a very important part of an overall and probably lengthy healing process -- he's taken after about 13 weeks of kind of a nuclear onslaught of media attention," Levine observes. "I think this is a very important beginning part, embryonic part of a long and probably difficult healing process (that) it will take him to restore some of his image."

Levine suggests Woods use humor -- self-deprecating humor -- because, he says, it would help cut through the tension.

Steve Sands, a Golf Channel reporter who'll be covering the Woods statement, says how Woods comports himself will be more important than what comes out of his mouth. "I don't know if all will be forgiven," he remarked to "Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith. "It depends. … I think people are going to judge the way he looks, how contrite he sounds, more so than they will judge the words he actually speaks.

"I think it's very important for Tiger to show that he is sorry. Obviously, he's going to apologize to (his wife) Elin, his family, his fans, his sponsors, fellow tour pros, the PGA tour itself perhaps, and maybe shed some light on his upcoming schedule, but I think the way he looks and the way he sounds will be way more important I think than the words he actually speaks."

Sands speculates Woods will return to golf at the Masters in April. "It's a controlled situation," Sands says. "It's a place he's extremely comfortable. The people at Augusta National Golf Club can control the media, they can control the circus, if you will. He's won there four times. I think that the Masters would be the likely scenario."

Sands sees a return to Woods' winning ways: "I think that, when he does come back, I think he will win and I think he will win -- I don't know if it'll be at the same clip as he was previously, but I do think he'll win rather regularly."

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