Late last week, Brandel Chamblee did a column for Golf.com, handing out grades for the 2013 golf season. Of Woods, he writes:
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.*
Chamblee then gave himself a F for being inaccurate with his picks for the majors. However he added, “But at least I earned this one honestly.” Clearly, it was another jab at Woods.
It should be noted Woods was the 14th golfer listed in the column. However, Golf.com used his F in the headline and there was a picture of Woods with a red-circled F.
Naturally, Woods’ camp was irate. Last Friday afternoon, Woods’ agent, Mark Steinberg, even threatened a lawsuit in an interview with ESPN.com’s Bob Harig.
“There’s nothing you can call a golfer worse than a cheater,” Steinberg said. “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.”
Geoff Shackelford tries to imagine a Wood v Chamblee trial.
I’m not sure about the legal recourse here. Defamation of character? Woods probably doesn’t want to go there, given all the doors that likely would open in his personal life.
Woods, though, will be looking to get even, and that could put the Golf Channel in the line of fire. There’s not much he can do to get back at Golf.com. The magazine and site weren’t getting any exclusive interviews anyway.
Woods, though, does appear regularly on interviews during tournaments with the Golf Channel. Chamblee’s main work is with the Golf Channel.
I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Woods might pull an interview boycott with the Golf Channel–at least at the events where Chamblee is on site as an analyst, which are quite a few. It would be a way for the Woods camp to make Chamblee feel the heat.
Remember Woods is wired much like Michael Jordan. Jordan stopped talking to the Sports Illustrated in 1994 when a cover story made fun of his attempt to play baseball.
As much as I like Chamblee, he went over the line here. If he wanted to label Woods a “golf cheat,” he should have devoted his entire column to the subject and not at the end of his piece.
Chamblee knows the ramification of labeling someone as a cheater, the worst allegation possible in the honorable sport.
Alex Myers of GolfDigest.com writes:
While it’s impossible to argue Chamblee’s assertion that Woods “was a little cavalier with the rules,” labeling him a cheater is an enormous leap to make, especially with someone whose every move is followed by millions of people. Besides, would a guy who is perceived to have cheated on purpose get voted Player of the Year by his peers over strong candidates?
It’ll be interesting to see where the story goes from here. Will Chamblee issue “a clarification” on his comments? Surely, there are some phone calls being made.