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No Backtracking by Chamblee


When Brandel Chamblee gave Tiger Woods an "F" in his Golf.com article last week it set off a firestorm of controversy. Chamblee, also an analyst for Golf Channel, gave Woods - the No. 1-ranked player in the world and PGA Tour's 2013 Player of the Year - the failing grade not for his successful, five-time win season but because "ethics matter more than athletics."

Chamblee saved Woods' 2013 report card for last among the 14 players he graded. He related a story about getting 100 on a fourth-grade math test but, because he was caught cheating, his teacher crossed a line through his perfect score and gave him an "F."

"I remember when we only talked about Tiger's golf," Chamblee wrote. "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" score and drew a line through it, followed by the "F."

Woods has had a difficult time this year with some rules violations, real and perceived. He was assessed a two-shot penalty in Abu Dhabi for taking relief from an embedded ball in a sandy area covered with vegetation. On Saturday morning after the second round of the Masters, Augusta National officials gave him a two-stroke penalty for an improper drop but didn't disqualify him for signing an incorrect scorecard, a situation that brought widespread indignation over whether the four-time Masters champion received "star" treatment and, because of his status as one of the game's greatest players, whether a more honorable choice would have been to DQ himself.

He also received a two-shot penalty by the PGA Tour following the second round of the BMW Championship when a video showed his ball moved slightly from behind the first green when he removed a twig. Then there was a question of whether he took an improper drop in the final round of the Players Championship, despite playing partner Casey Wittenberg saying that Woods' drop position by a hazard was correct.

Chamblee never directly called Woods a cheater in his article (http://www.golf.com/tour-and-news/tiger-woods-gets-f-brandel-chamblees-year-end-grades).

"I think 'cavalier with the rules' allows for those with a dubious opinion of the BMW video," he said Tuesday in an email to The Associated Press. "My teacher in the fourth grade did not have a dubious opinion of how I completed the test . . . What people want to infer about that is up to them. I have my opinion, they can form theirs."

After reading the article, Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg of Excel Sports Management, released a statement to ESPN.com that accused Chamblee of trying to draw attention. In an interview with ESPN.com, Steinberg said he was considering "legal action." Steinberg did not reply to a follow-up email from the AP.

Steinberg also said on EPSN.com: "There's nothing you can call a golfer worse than a cheater. This is the most deplorable thing I have seen. I'm not one for hyperbole, but this is absolutely disgusting. Calling him a cheater? I'll be shocked, stunned, if something is not done about this. Something has to be done. There are certainly things that just don't go without response. It's atrocious. I'm not sure if there isn't legal action to be taken. I have to give some thought to legal action."

When asked by the AP whether he was concerned about Steinberg's implication of legal action, Chamblee replied. "No. I thought it incomprehensible that anyone with the slightest understanding of libel laws wouldn't know the definition of and the difference between libel and opinion."

Chamblee also told the AP the reaction to his failing grade for Woods would probably not go unnoticed. "I suspected there would be the usual assortment of divisive banter about me giving Tiger an 'F,' but as it turns out, it was a slow week in golf, so with not much to do, my column got more attention than it should have," he said.