For those golf fans that may have missed the latest furore involving Woods, it concerns his fourth rules violation of the year and a US TV golf analyst named Brandel Chamblee (pictured above) employed by Golf Channel.
Chamblee had written on Sports Illustrated’s website, Golf.Com, about how he had once cheated in a school exam and was downgraded to an F and how he would give Woods an F if he was marking a report card for him.
He then reiterated this view in Golf magazine saying, ‘I remember when we only talked about Tiger’s golf. I miss those days. He won five times and contended in five majors and won the Vardon Trophy and – how shall we say this – was a little cavalier with the rules.’
The outcome from an always-prickly Woods when it comes to media attention was as combustible as it was predictable.
Wood’s management team went into frontal assault mode with Mark Steinberg, Woods’s manager, threatening Chamblee with a lawsuit whilst Woods fanned the flames by saying, ‘The ball is really in the court of the Golf Channel and what they are prepared to do.’ The plan was to get Chamblee sacked for having the temerity to find fault with Woods.
Most lately Rory McIlroy has waded in with some ill-thought out comments to defend his Nike stable-mate including, ‘People wouldn’t know who Brandel Chamblee was if it wasn’t for Tiger Woods.’ Presumably McIlroy feels that Woods has now reached that God-like status where he is beyond criticism.
Chamblee has subsequently resigned from Golf magazine and written of his regret regarding his comments concerning the F-grade but still maintains his stance on Woods’s ‘cavalier’ approach to the rules in Abu Dhabi, Augusta, Ponte Vedra and Chicago. But the Woods camp is yet to let the situation rest.
The most worrying feature of all this is not the aggression shown by Steinberg and Woods to the media because they have been doing that for years. If caddy Steve Williams were still on board he would no doubt be offering some lively invective to anyone who would listen as well.
The most worrying thing is the expectation of top golfers and their acolytes that journalists are only there to report good news rather than news. Equally frustrating is the unquestioning attitude of the anchormen that has led to some startlingly bland television. Who can think back to Gary Lineker’s US Masters TV stewardship in 2009 without wincing? or Sam Torrance calling Paul Casey, ‘A birdie machine’ on the very hole he had just bogeyed?
Anodyne questions of the ‘You played quite brilliantly today, tell us about it,’ when a player has completed a round followed by the equally fatuous and spectacularly unedifying reply, ‘Yep, I hit it good good out there. Real solid,’ are clearly all that Steinberg and Woods want from the golf media, and Woods never knowingly says anything of interest during a tournament.
So should TV producers turn a blind eye when they see a ball move, as Woods’s did as he stood over it at the BMW tournament in Chicago? Tiger, incidentally still denies what the rest of the world saw. Or should they hold their nerve and report what they see as journalists and commentators and have been doing for years because that is their job?
For the sake of the game and sport in general it is to be fervently hoped that they do.