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Tiger Responds to Call-In Infractions
Tiger Woods is the latest high-profile golfer to end up on the bad end of an observant, eagle-eyed TV viewer who saw something amiss on his HD screen in the comfort of his man cave.
The game's top-ranked player created a verifiable firestorm of controversy on Friday of this year's Masters, when what looked like a brilliant approach with his third to the par-5 15th hole at Augusta National terribly, unluckily and loudly clanged off the flagstick and caromed into Rae's Creek.
We won't go into explanations as writing it becomes something out of a U.S. Army manual. Let's just say that dropping his fifth shot almost imperceptibly farther (and which he confirmed) than the prior stroke set off a chain of events that, one might think, elicited an uproar not heard since Saddam Hussein's heydays.
Tiger's certainly not the first to be ratted out by someone perched on their La-Z Boy. (In fact, the caller in the Woods-Masters incident turned out to be no less a personage than David Eger - a respected former rules official and fine amateur and professional player.)
There was Craig Stadler's "built-stance" faux pas in the 1987 San Diego Open, the result of a strange-when-you-think-about-it, knee-on-towel ploy that helped keep said knee dry in the wet grass but resulted in a dreaded incorrect scorecard; the nationwide horror after Dustin Johnson hit out of an existential "bunker" on the 72nd hole that cost him the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits; Ian Woosnam's multi-driver travail at the 2001 British Open that greatly helped David Duval's only major title; and way too many other incidents.
The problem, Woods explained Tuesday at the Players Championship, isn't about the game of golf, but how the game somehow has a knack for eliciting faraway rules' interpretations that influence outcomes. Especially Sundays, when the cameras dial in close to golf's preeminent stars.
"I don't ever see myself calling in and saying that Kobe (Bryant of the NBA's LA Lakers) traveled or things like that or some guy held - an offensive lineman held, but it's our sport, and that's what we've done and we've accepted," the 77-time PGA Tour winner said. "Certain groups are going to get more heat than others just because they're on TV. It is what it is."
In response to a question about "armchair rules officials," the now-grizzled veteran submitted, "Well, that is part of the unlevelness, certainly with being on TV more you're going to get more questions. It's not like something that's new to us out here. We've had - our rules staff, they're fantastic and they get calls every week. So it's not anything that's new. That's been going on for years."
Here's what else Woods had to say about that issue, and, oh yes, the Players Championship, which starts Thursday at TPC Sawgrass. Strangely, for such a great player, he's only won once at the Pete Dye-designed course, in 2001.
Q. A couple holes in today, but just what it's like to return here to Sawgrass and the Players Championship.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I played four holes out there today, and a little bit of work. Unbelievable how the golf course is as dry as it is considering as much rain as has fallen on this golf course. They've done an amazing job of getting this place dry and playable, and it's going to be - hopefully it'll stay hot and the wind will stay up so it'll dry out a little bit more.
Q. How does this course challenge you the most? What do you see?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it is a tricky kind of golf course. We're all playing to the same spots. Pete normally does that on most of his golf courses, likes to angle tee shots. There are a few opportunities in which maybe a par 5 here and there that you can take it down there, but most of the holes are angles in a way that you see most of the guys playing from the same spots.
Q. You haven't historically been much of a red-carpet guy. What was the experience like?
TIGER WOODS: It was certainly different. It was something - Lindsey wanted to try and grow her brand. She's come out with a new perfume and makeup line, so that was a big thing for her, and I'm supporting it. Certainly, as you know, I'm not really big into fashion stuff, so that was pretty neat to meet Anna and some of the people that were there. The theme was certainly interesting because obviously I remember some of that stuff when I was a kid. But I certainly didn't really wear that stuff.
Q. Will you be doing more of these things?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I don't know. We'll see. Maybe I can just go in jeans and a t shirt or something.
Q. Who had the invitation, you or Lindsey?
TIGER WOODS: Lindsey got it.
Q. In this age of the World Golf Championships event and FedEx Cup Playoffs is the idea of a tournament being a fifth major deleted or can you even talk of any tournament being a fifth major?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think we have our four major championships, and that's that. But if there was going to be another one, this would be it. This is the best field that we have. We have guys from all over the world playing, and certainly probably, next to the PGA, probably one of the deepest and stiffest fields we'll face.
Q. You were working on the range for quite a while. Where would you say your game is?
TIGER WOODS: Very pleased. I'm looking forward to it. I feel like I've done some very good work, basically a continuation of what I've done for the past couple months. I took a week off, didn't really do any golf at all right after the Masters, and then started kind of training and getting back into it and getting into full swing here probably the last week and a half.
Q. What were you working on back on the range, anything in particular?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, we're just working on the same thing, trying to get my lines looking good again, keeping it consistent so that on a golf course like this where you've got to hit the ball high, low, and move it all around, right to left, left to right, that my lines don't get too far off.
Q. Your record here, you've contended twice, but Vijay has contended once, Phil once, Ernie, none, Furyk, none. What does that say about the golf course?
TIGER WOODS: As I said, it's one of those courses where they've got some tough lines, and if you're not playing well, you're going to get exposed. This is a golf course in which you have to drive the ball really well, and then on top of that, now that it's gone to Bermuda, these greens have gotten a lot more fiery coming into them. So it makes it even more important to hit the ball in these fairways to have a chance to spin the ball. You miss these greens at all, you've got some of the weirdest, funky little shots that you'll ever face. As I said, now playing out of Bermudagrass it's really hard to get the ball up and down.
Q. We talk about being short sided. You can be short sided on like three sides of the green here.
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, probably a great example of that is No.1, that back left corner. It's a golf course in which it requires discipline. I think that, in my opinion, you've got to play it smart, strategic, but when you have an opportunity to be aggressive, you've got to be aggressive and take advantage of certain opportunities because you're not going to get a lot of them, not under - most of the scores haven't been as low since we went to Bermuda as it was when it was over-seed.
Q. At the times you haven't had success here has the common denominator been your driving more than anything else?
TIGER WOODS: Well, some of the years I've driven it well and not hit my irons well, and other years I've hit the ball great and not putted well, and other years I've drove it awful and didn't score well. You've got to have all facets of your game going here. It's one of those type of golf courses, and as you look at, as what Doug was saying, sometimes it's just tough to have all the guys peak at the right time.
Q. What's the least sort of comfortable shot or hole for you personally on this golf course?
TIGER WOODS: Probably 17 when it's blowing out of the north, northwest. I've hit 5 iron into that hole. Not a good hole to hit 5 iron to. The flag is dancing up there, and it's cold and it's about 40 degrees out. That was one of the tougher shots I've ever faced.
Q. Any other holes or shots that you sort of feel uncomfortable out there?
TIGER WOODS: No, no. I mean, some of the holes obviously suit my eye, some don't, but a lot of it is based on wind, what direction the wind is coming from, what shape I'm swinging well at the moment. Some days I'm drawing the ball better, some days I'm cutting the ball better. Just kind of goes with the flow.
Q. Where do you stand on folks calling in rules violations?
TIGER WOODS: You know, I'm not - I don't ever see myself calling in and saying that Kobe traveled or things like that or some guy held - an offensive lineman held, but it's our sport, and that's what we've done and we've accepted. Certain groups are going to get more heat than others just because they're on TV. It is what it is.
Q. In light of the Masters ruling and how that has remained a topic for so long, are you (inaudible)?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, actually I am, because I think Fred explained it pretty well. For some reason evidently that wasn't accepted.
Q. Do you think you would have gone to this red carpet event during the week of a major?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I have. I've gone to the Golf Writers dinner at Augusta. You like that one, huh?
Q. Brandt said that he feels like when someone calls in they're almost questioning your integrity, and that sort of bothers him, and also, you are on TV way more than anyone else in the field. Is it a level playing field as a result when you're talking about these armchair rules officials?
TIGER WOODS: Well, that is part of the unlevelness, certainly with being on TV more you're going to get more questions. It's not like something that's new to us out here. We've had - our rules staff, they're fantastic and they get calls every week. So it's not anything that's new. That's been going on for years.
Q. What did you have going for you the year you won here?
TIGER WOODS: I think at the time I was really playing well for that stretch of - well, a year or so. I think I had just won Bay Hill, I believe, and had a lot of confidence, and I won here and then won at Augusta. I think for that 2000 year plus early 2001, I think I had a pretty good little run there.
Q. How long does the disappointment of the Masters stay with you?
TIGER WOODS: That one probably stayed for about a week, until I started back practicing again. When I was away from it, I was reflecting on - obviously the things that I did right but also the things that I did wrong that week. And unfortunately I hit a good shot and got a bad break. But I still had an opportunity over the next 36 holes to get it back, and I sort of had my opportunities to do it and I just didn't do it.
Q. That was really the turning point for you at the Masters?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, that certainly - I had a lot of momentum going at the time. At the time I think I was tied for the lead with Fred, and I thought I'd stuffed it in there and I thought it was going to be a birdie and I could take the lead there and maybe sneak one in on the final three holes and basically start building a lead in the tournament, and it kind of turned the other way with a good shot.
Q. What do you make of Adam Scott winning?
TIGER WOODS: I think it's fantastic. We've seen what he can do. We've seen how close he was last year at the British Open, and if it wasn't for a rough finish, then he would have been the holder of the claret jug. He's won tournaments all around the world. He's won this tournament. You can see the steady improvement that he's made over the years. It wasn't a surprise to any of us that he won a major championship.
Q. Assuming you were watching golf on television and you saw a clear violation, would you ever consider calling in?
TIGER WOODS: No.
Q. Why not? Because it's all protecting the field and all that stuff?
TIGER WOODS: No. As I said, I don't call in when Kobe travels or - so... which does happen, though.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.