Hollywood public relations guru Howard Bragman thinks sex scandal-plagued Tiger Woods and his media handlers have been screwing up royally.

“The scandal wasn't about the scope of his transgressions,” Bragman, who's widely considered one of the best crisis management publicists in the country, tells L.A. Weekly, “and that's what he's failed to understand. A lot of athletes have done far worse than Tiger.”

Bragman says Woods and his public relations crew have messed up “from the beginning” — from failing to first provide a credible story about Woods' car crash to taking a somewhat adversarial position with the press.

“You don't play whose golf club is bigger with the media,” says Bragman, who's based in L.A. “They'll win. As Mark Twain famously said, 'Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.'”

Bragman says Woods' refusal to face the press and continuing silence is a major, public relations faux pas.

“What Tiger doesn't understand is that you can say you're a private guy and ask for your privacy,” Bragman explains, “but it doesn't mean you're going to get it.”

The P.R. expert adds, “His silence is deafening. It does everything you don't want to have happen. It lets other people define what's happening, who then paint a bad picture, and (the silence) drives the media crazy.”

The end result, says Bragman, is that Woods has created a feeding frenzy among journalists and bloggers, which is now threatening the golfing legend's bottom line.

“While Tiger's shedding endorsements and losing his shirt,” Bragman says, “media outlets are rejoicing. He's selling papers and crashing Web sites. He's the ultimate holiday gift for the media.”

And Woods and his media team continue to hit the ball way off the mark — take, for example, Woods' “indefinite” retirement from professional golf.

“(That announcement) was a little surrealistic,” says Bragman, “and I don't understand it and what motivated it. It doesn't do anything for him.”

Hitting one public relations bogey after another, one has to wonder when the mega-superstar will shake up his P.R. team.

LA Weekly