October 19, 2013

Controversial column by Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee in this month’s Golf magazine where he equates – although he doesn’t come out and say it directly – his being caught cheating on a 4th grade math test with that drop Tiger took at The Masters during Friday’s round at Augusta. Now Tiger’s agent Mark Steinberg has his panties all in a wad and threatening to sue Chamblee for what he wrote.

So what exactly did Chamblee write? In grading the performances of a number of high-profile golfers in 2013 he had this to say about Woods:

Tiger Woods: When I was in the fourth grade, I cheated on a math test and when I got the paper back it had “100” written at the top and just below the grade, was this quote, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!” It was an oft-quoted line from the epic poem “Marmion” by Sir Walter Scott, and my teacher’s message was clear. Written once more beneath that quote was my grade of “100”, but this time with a line drawn through it and beneath that an F. I never did ask my teacher how she knew I cheated and I certainly didn’t protest the grade. I knew I had done the wrong thing and my teacher the right, but I never forgot the way I felt when I read that quote.

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.**

100 / F

I’m not in the business of predicting wins or scores but am often asked to do so. Before the events started, I predicted that Adam Scott would win the Masters, Phil Mickelson would win the Open Championship and Stacy Lewis would win the Women’s Open Championship, but I also said that Tiger would win the U.S. Open and he would do so with a record score. I also said that Tiger, coming off his 7-shot win at Bridgestone, would win the PGA Championship. So I was 3 for 5 in the majors that I predicted and 0-1 in scores, which makes me even money in the betting world and 50 percent in the academic world, which is an F.

But at least I earned this one honestly.

**Tiger’s rule controversies in 2013 included taking an illegal free drop at the Abu Dhabi Championship, avoiding disqualification at the Masters despite signing an incorrect scorecard following an illegal drop, giving himself a favorable drop after hitting into a water hazard at the Players Championship, and a two-stroke penalty for causing his ball to move while removing a twig resting against it at the BMW Championship.

Now, of course, the professional golf world considers its reputation for policing itself beyond reproach, believing that somehow, simply by golf being a “game” instead of the money-driven big business it is, people are supposed to behave differently from their nature unlike other sports. You hear the stories from time to time: some nobody from nowhere is at top of a leaderboard or near the cut line and assesses himself a one or two-stroke penalty because he sees or does something no one else appears to see, and golf commentators in print and on TV fall over themselves saying what a class act he is and why that makes golf so different from any other sport, er, game.


The fact is, the best players in the world are what they are because their talent and their competitive nature trump those who have either the talent or a competitive nature, but not both when it counts. And sometimes, that competitive nature becomes such a driving force that even a Tiger Woods is going to take every advantage available to him when it counts. Did Tiger take an improper drop at Augusta? Hell, yes – even I saw that clearly from my seat at the bar over a cold beer after a blistering-hot day at the Superstition Springs driving range. The fact is, he really should have been allowed to sign his scorecard as he saw it and then disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. But he’s Tiger Woods, so that couldn’t be allowed to happen. And no, that ball didn’t “oscillate” (as Tiger insisted) at the BMW, it moved.

To me, Woods’ most flagrant offense was the drop he took at THE PLAYERS, where his drive on the 14th hole, from the blimp’s angle directly above, was clearly shown to be over water, virtually from the start. Instead of dropping somewhere back of the ladies’ tees as he should have, Woods gave himself a very favorable drop much further ahead. Let’s recap, shall we?

When Woods’ tee shot at the par-4 14th hole at TPC Sawgrass found a lateral water hazard that runs to the left of the fairway, he had to take a drop that was questioned by NBC’s Johnny Miller as being “really, really borderline.”

At issue is determining where the ball last crossed land and went into the hazard. Woods ended up taking a drop that was 255 yards from the pin. His 3-wood tee shot, which he said was a “pop-up, big, high hook,” started well to the right and then “went way left,” Woods said.

The only way to know where the ball crossed the hazard line is to have seen it from the tee. Woods consulted with playing competitor Casey Wittenberg and Wittenberg’s caddie/coach, Adam Schriber, to determine where to drop.

“I saw it perfectly from the tee,” Wittenberg said. “I told him exactly where I thought it crossed, and we all agreed. … I told him I thought it crossed on the corner of the bunker right where he took his drop, and it’s all good.”

Wittenberg was questioned several times about the drop and the ball flight, which he said was hooking into the water.

“Yes, for sure, there is no doubt, guys,” he said. “The ball crossed where he dropped.”

After his “borderline” comment Miller also said, “I can’t live with myself without saying that.” Was he accusing Woods of cheating? And what else was Wittenberg, an up-and-coming youngster with his whole professional career ahead of him supposed to say? “I thought Tiger’s drop at the time was questionable and I told him so, but he told me to go screw”? Of course he’s going to defend Woods – after all, he’s TIGER WOODS and if you’re a aspiring golfer who doesn’t want to see your career and reputation destroyed by a 5-second spurt of honest opinion you keep your yap shut and move along.

As the saying goes, where there’s smoke there’s fire. And there was plenty of smoke during Tiger Woods’ 2013. Any one of these occurrences taken singularly could be called an aberration; taken together they show a pattern of someone who ought to know the rules as well as anyone taking advantage of his place and position in the golf world to bend (if not break) them whenever it becomes necessary.

Does that make him a cheater? A rule-bender? Someone who allows his competitive juices to cloud his judgment?

Does Chamblee’s column accuse Tiger of being a cheater?

Talk about borderline….

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 12:51 | Comments Off on Borderline
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