HAIKOU, China — Tiger Woods issued a veiled challenge to Golf Channel over a column written by analyst Brandel Chamblee that a series of rules violations by Woods amounted to cheating.
Woods spoke publicly for the first time since Chamblee, a longtime critic of the world’s No. 1 player, wrote a column for SI Golf Plus in which he gave Woods an ‘F’ for his season for being “a little cavalier” with the rules.
Chamblee is best known for his work with Golf Channel, though he also is a contributor to SI Golf Plus. He took to Twitter last week to apologize to Woods for “this incited discourse,” though not for the content of his column.
“All I am going to say is that I know I am going forward,” Woods said before losing his exhibition match with Rory McIlroy at Mission Hills. “But then, I don’t know what the Golf Channel is going to do or not. But then that’s up to them. The whole issue has been very disappointing as he didn’t really apologize and he sort of reignited the whole situation.
“So the ball really is in the court of the Golf Channel and what they are prepared to do.”
McIlroy shot 67 and Woods had 68.
Golf Channel has not commented on the flap. Chamblee has said he was not asked to apologize by anyone.
Chamblee saved Woods for last in his report card of 14 players in a column posted Oct. 18 on Golf.com. He told of getting caught cheating on a math test in the fourth grade, and how the teacher crossed a line through his “100” and gave him an ‘F.’
Chamblee followed that anecdote by writing, “I remember when we only talked about Tiger’s golf. I miss those days. He won five times and contended in majors and won the Vardon Trophy and ... how shall we say this ... was a little cavalier with the rules.” He then gave Woods a “100” with a line through it, followed by the ‘F.’
In one of his tweets last week, Chamblee said he intended to point out Woods’ rules infractions, “but comparing that to cheating in grade school went too far.”
Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, was so incensed by the column that he issued a statement to ESPN.com that raised the possibility of legal action. Steinberg shared his client’s views.
“I’m all done talking about it and it’s now in the hands of the Golf Channel,” Steinberg said. “That’s Tiger’s view and that’s mine, and all we want to do is move forward. And whether the Golf Channel moves forward as well, then we’ll have to wait and see.”
Woods accepted a two-shot penalty in Abu Dhabi for taking relief from an embedded ball in a sandy area covered with vegetation. Augusta National Golf Club gave him a two-shot penalty for taking the wrong drop in the second round of the Masters Tournament. And the PGA Tour gave him a two-shot penalty after his second round of the BMW Championship when video evidence showed that his ball moved slightly from behind the first green. Even after watching the video, Woods insisted that his ball only oscillated.
Also in question — at least on Internet blogs — was the drop Woods took on the 14th hole of the TPC Sawgrass during the final round of The Players Championship. Woods checked with playing partner Casey Wittenberg on where to take the penalty drop, which is standard procedure. Wittenberg said it was the correct spot.
Chamblee said in an email last week to The Associated Press that he never said outright that he thinks Woods cheated, and that was by design.
“I think ‘cavalier with the rules’ allows for those with a dubious opinion of the BMW video,” Chamblee said. “My teacher in the fourth grade did not have a dubious opinion of how I completed the test. But she was writing to one, and as I was writing to many, I felt it important to allow for the doubt some might have, so I chose my words accordingly.
“What people want to infer about that is up to them,” he said. “I have my opinion, they can form theirs.”
Chamblee has developed a reputation for being critical of Woods, mainly regarding his golf game. His column struck a nerve with many, however, because of the implication that three rules violations and a penalty drop involving Woods amounted to cheating — the strongest accusation possible in golf.
“What brought me here was the realization that my comments inflamed an audience on two sides of an issue,” Chamblee wrote on Twitter when he apologized. “Golf is a gentleman’s game and I’m not proud of this debate. I want to apologize to Tiger for this incited discourse.”